There’s a little shop I visit where the cashier always wishes everyone a safe day when they leave. Not a good day — a SAFE day.
I’m not pro-disaster by any means, but her comment, although well-intended, always grates a little. Yes, I appreciate the wish that I remain free from harm. But great accomplishments aren’t won by staying safe.
You have to risk to reach the pinnacle, no matter what you’re doing. It applies to just about anything in life.
Take typing (or in modern parlance, “keyboarding,”) for example. If you’re a touch typist, you doubtless have reached a natural, comfortable typing speed. It’s a good pace for you, one that enables you to get things done reasonably efficiently with the fewest mistakes possible.
Yet that comfort zone means you’ve reached a plateau. The only way to get faster, and more accurate, is to go beyond, to type faster than you’re comfortable with. Eventually, you become proficient at an even higher rate until you reach your peak.
It’s the same with mechanical products. Just about any high-performance device that operates at a level far beyond the ordinary, more mundane counterpart does so at the increased risk of breakage at the performance peak.
Cars are a good example. Honda Accords are perfectly good automobiles. They do most things well, at an acceptable level of performance for the vast majority of drivers. But if you want the performance of say, a Ferrari, you have to accept the fact that it will be far more likely to break down than the Honda will.
The Honda is designed to a median, a performance level that most folks will find acceptable. The Ferrari is designed for ultimate performance, even at the sacrifice of day-to-day reliability. It’s a trade-off some people are willing to make.
Same thing with sports. The only way to reach the pinnacle of any sport is to take risks. Want to be the world’s best surfer? Then you gotta ride the biggest waves. Want to be the best skateboarder? You have to get the most air off the half-pipe. And to do those things, you have to go right up to — and sometimes beyond — the edge of disaster. True, some men and women lose their lives trying to master their chosen passion and be the best they can be. But many more don’t, and go on to reach the peaks of their lives.
Think again of the typist. The faster his fingers are moving, the greater the possibility of a spelling error. Sometimes, it happens. Yet the only way to get even faster is to be right on that edge of going over the line. Anything less and you’re back in the comfortable rut.
Necessary risk isn’t limited to sports. Remember the first time you asked someone out? Was it scary? Sure. Did you get better at it the more you did it? You bet. How did you get better? You took that risk again and again, learning as you went. It’s how we all realize our fullest potential as human beings.
So thank you for wishing me a safe day, dear store clerk. But I must take risks to grow, to learn, to be alive — to be human.