“There is no safety.” So began a recent conversation with a fellow entrepreneur as we talked about the challenges of building, growing, and sustaining a business. His response to my comment was a quotation from 2013’s World War Z: “Movement is life.”
The broader context for my comment about safety stemmed from a discussion on the dangers of the status quo. So often, we feel safe in the familiar. The known builds our confidence with its predictability. Knowing what to expect, we can form plans and make decisions within the structure of understandable order. In our ordered world, we are free to exist peacefully and a sense of safety ensues.
The problems begin when chaos imposes itself upon our order. Look at the reaction to the “coronavirus.” The fear of the virus makes us feel vulnerable. In the context of something we don’t fully understand or from which we are not quite sure how, or if, we can protect ourselves, we feel unsettled, unsure, hesitant. The comfort of our status quo is threatened and we don’t like it.
Though the cycle of comfort and discomfort, ease and unease, is perpetually consistent, we still resist it. We intuitively know that the comfort of our status quo is under constant threat, yet we find ourselves surprised, disappointed, and frustrated when change is forced upon us, annoyingly pushing us out of that comfort and into the edgy sharpness of the unknown.
Still, we wait for it. In World War Z, Brad Pitt’s character tells a family that they will not be safe hiding in their high-rise apartment but fear grips them and they will not leave the place that feels safe. The perception of safety is a fallacy. They stay because it is known and the fear of what lies outside is too great for them to overcome.
Most of us live this way in various versions every day. The routines of the known distract and insulate us from fearsome chaos lying just around the corner. Safety, we feel, is maintained in small movements that create minimal ripples and keep us close to the shore; protected from the dark waters of the unknown. In the known, the seen, and the understood, we convince ourselves that we are secure.
No matter what you do, change will find you. Uncertainty will chase you down and impose itself upon your well-ordered life. There is no escaping it. Hiding from it may seem comfortable and safe, but that safety is a mirage. From the uncertainty of change, there can be no protection.
Movement is Life
Yet, it is the change, the struggle, that strengthens us. In this way, movement is life. Not the movement of running away, but of pushing through. We cannot sit still, we must keep moving. We feel uncomfortable with the unknown but it is there that we grow. Change helps us transform.
Movement also creates momentum. When we take the initiative, we are moving directionally with intention. We are not caught “on our heels” when change appears, we anticipate it and meet it in a proper stance. Movement positions us to respond more effectively.
Unfortunately, movement also does not guaranty safety. With motion, we are no longer “sitting ducks,” but that does not mean we won’t walk into some other problem. That potential “other problem” is often what keeps us in the same place – we fear that it may be worse than known challenges. We know that even if we keep moving, we may still fail.
This post opened with a statement: “there is no safety.” It’s true. There are no guarantees. Nothing sits still. Life is not static. It is going to act upon you. However, you can mitigate the risks and seize the initiative. You are gifted with the opportunity to envision, and reach for, a different reality from the one in which you currently exist. You have the opportunity to anticipate the unexpected and proactively respond to the unknowns. You can do something about the chaos, but you’ll have to stretch.
To stretch is to grow with intention. To stretch is to reach for something rather than waiting for it to come to you. To stretch is to aspire to something more and push yourself in that direction. To stretch is to expose yourself to risk with the intention of growing through it.
What is the difference between here and there? That distance traveled is the stretch. In the stretch, you have the opportunity to rise, and to fall. When you stretch, you test your limits and evolve in the process. When you reach, you gift yourself with the transformative possibility of moving beyond this and into that which may be.
What a minute! Did you say,”In the stretch, you have the opportunity to rise, and to fall“? Aren’t we trying to avoid risk? Nope. Remember, there is no safety. However, the safest place you can be is in a state of improvement. Improvement comes through growth, by stretching beyond your current state. Growth comes through experiences, challenges, and, sometimes, failure. Ironically, your safety is increased by the risk of your stretch.
Change is coming. Chaos lurks. Danger is in the air. Life goes on. Our job is to make the most of it with the gifts we have. Our mission is to keep growing to become all that we might be. Today, keep stretching even though you might fall. Tomorrow, rise, even after you’ve fallen. Knowing you can rise is the safest place to be.