There Is Safety in Boldness

Bobby wants to get started, but he’s waiting for things to settle down a bit first. When they do, he’ll proceed. Seems reasonable.

Billie promises she is about get started, but she’s no fool – it’s only sensible to wait until she’s got a few more quid saved up… just in case. Once that happens, she’ll be ready to roll.

Barry really thought he’d be started by now, but he’s decided that first he wants a guarantee. He wants some kind of signal that he’s made the right decision, and that everything will work out just fine for him. Then he’ll get going.

Bobby, Billie, and Barry think they’re being wise. I think they’re chicken-shit.

Life does not have a ‘pause’ button

When there is something you want to do, but present circumstances are not perfect, you have two choices: You can take some kind of action anyway, or you can do nothing whilst you wait for the circumstances to become perfect.

And intuitively, waiting feels like the safer option. The neutral choice. As though nothing is at stake. Like you’ve hit ‘pause’ on life, and though by waiting you might be not gaining anything, at least you’re not losing anything, so it evens out, really.

Taking action, on the other hand, feels decidedly risky in comparison. As though everything is at stake. Like now you’ve hit ‘play’ on life, and whilst, yes, you could stand to gain something from taking action, it’s also possible that you could lose something.

The truth is in fact the complete opposite of this.

Because life does not have a pause button. The stakes are the same in all moments. Waiting is not the neutral choice. There is no neutral choice. Either you are acting, or you are refusing to act.

And if you you are clothing your refusal to act with ‘waiting for the right moment’ then the truth is that you are not wise, but in fact a coward.

Waiting is much riskier

It is in fact riskier to wait for circumstances to change than it is to act under the present circumstances, whatever they might be. Riskier, and far more damaging too. And that’s chiefly because of the message you are sending yourself when you wait.

You are in effect telling yourself that you are only capable of moving forward under an extremely narrow set of perfect circumstances. Anything less than perfect, and you can’t do it. You are selling yourself incredibly short.

This is disempowering enough to begin with, but let’s suppose for a minute that whatever you’re waiting for actually does come to be – if it’s money you need, let’s say you find it somewhere. And now you can get started. What a happy ending.

It’s just that… what if it doesn’t? What if circumstances are never ‘just right’ for you? Think of all that time you’ll have wasted. What a sad, pathetic life you will lead, compared to the one you could have led if you weren’t so fearful.

The other thing is that even if – and it’s unlikely – circumstances become perfect, old habits die hard. What makes you think you won’t change the rules of the game and invent some new perfect circumstances that have to met before you’ll do something?

Wherever you go, there you are.

To take action – no matter how imperfect the circumstances – is to take a small, calculated risk.

To wait for circumstances to be perfect is to take the biggest risk of them all – your life.

“I certainly believe this: that it is better to be impetuous than cautious, because Fortune is a woman, and if you want to keep her under it is necessary to beat her and force her down. It is clear that she more often allows herself to be won over by impetuous men than by those who proceed coldly.”

Nicolo Machiavelli – The Prince

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