A couple of months ago, I was talking to a friend about my new life coaching adventure. He was excited for me and we found ourselves knee deep in a conversation about risk versus reward.
Years ago, he had a boss who warned him not to be a margin biter. . . someone who sits on the sidelines of his or her life and musters up just enough courage to take a little bite at what they really want. But they never quite go after the whole thing and eventually slink back to the sidelines afraid that a larger bite may swallow them whole. Safe, maybe? Happy and fulfilled . . .not usually. Wow . . . how many people do I know who this described? I know it was me 10 years’ ago.
It’s scary to go into the deep end of your desires. We’ve all had disappointments and even failed attempts. And so many of us take our cue from those experiences or those around us trying to protect us— stay on the sideline and be cautious. Only leap when you really know it’s a sure thing. Honestly, I do not think this even exists.
And yet, study after study says that no one ever regrets the risks they’ve taken in life—it’s the actions we fail to take we ultimately regret. Being safe on life’s sidelines doesn’t safeguard us from experiencing pain and longing. In fact, the smaller we make our world, the more pain we can invite into our lives. Even more interesting is that challenging ourselves and moving out of our comfort zones is proven to make us happier and more fulfilled.
When Jack Nicholson’s character in As Good As It Gets asks a group of unsuspecting folks in a waiting room—“What if this is as good as it gets?”, he’s got the same thing in mind as my friend’s boss.
For those of you have seen it, the movie entertains us with Jack’s character’s extreme obsession with safeguarding his life and surroundings—never venturing outside of a very small comfort zone (in the film, he does have a medical condition that contributes to this type of behavior).
However, through a series of interesting & humorous cinematic events, he realizes that he’s really not that happy with the life he’s created, regardless of his medical diagnosis. He has money, fame and plenty of stuff, yet he lacks love and human connection. And it appears to us watching that it is a direct result of his fear of leaning in to his vulnerabilities and taking big steps and bold leaps.
Lucky for us, he realizes this and when confronted with the chance at love, he risks all familiarity and security just for the possibility, not certainty, that he will get it. It was a game changer for him.
I aspire to this same way of life— walking and sometimes catapulting myself out of my comfort zone and taking big bites at the life in front of me. Even without the certainty that I will get what I imagined as a result.
My friend’s story helped remind me that I don’t want to be a margin biter—nope, I want the whole scary, messy, exhilarating thing!