Is There Such a Thing as a Safe Life?

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I’m a big fan of staying safe.  I wear my seatbelt.  I hate heights.  I don’t smoke.  I don’t really engage in any seriously reckless behaviors.

But in the past two months, the whole focus of society has been on ‘staying safe.’

Are you really safe, ever?  Can you live a fulfilling life and stay ‘safe?’

My wife and I spend time in Palm Desert every winter, and every winter we use the SoCal highways.  We also know that every single day, 11 people are killed in traffic on these highways.  But we’re willing to take the risk of driving because we want to experience things when we’re down there.

We (okay, I) also have fries sometimes and the odd Diet Coke even though I know that these things are carcinogenic and increase my odds of an early death.

I’ve ridden a motorcycle on the street for 40 years this year, even though I know that 12 people die in North America every single day riding their bikes (main key to safety: control your throttle hand).

I’ve also gotten married.  This is spectacularly unsafe.  Anyone who marries risks being emotionally and financially devastated at some point.  Same again for having children.  And the odds of this happening are statistically high.  If you have a spouse and kids, your heart is going to be broken at some point.  Maybe many points.

Yet I still did it.

I’ve traveled to 35 (ish) countries, some ridiculously unsafe.  I’ve been caught in the middle of coup attempts.  We recently visited Palestine even though I know that non-Palestinians are killed in and around there every year. Lots.  If we waited for Israel and Palestine to be ‘safe’ we would never go!

Here’s my point:

I’ve led a fulfilling life because I haven’t tried to be completely safe at all times.

Now to coronavirus.  As the dataset gets larger, it becomes clearer and clearer that if you’re under, say, 50 years old and in decent health, the odds of you dying of it are vanishingly small.

Does it happen?  Yes.  Is it a risk?  Yes.

Now, I don’t want to visit North Korea.  Or Syria.  I don’t court danger.  I don’t lick public countertops.  I would never get in a car driven by someone who’d been drinking.  I’ve declined rides in tiny private planes with weekend warrior pilots.  I want to live within reasonable bounds of safety.

But I don’t want my epitaph to read, “Here lies Trevor Throness.  He lived a very safe life.”

Social Distance.  Yes!

Wash your hands!  Yes!

Meet over Zoom wherever possible!  Yes!

Don’t endanger the vulnerable!  Yes!

But don’t live in the fantasy that you can or should live a safe life.  Instead, living a fulfilling life.  Live an impactful life.


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Written by Trevor Throness
Trevor is a veteran coach, keynote speaker, and the author of the book “The Power of People Skills” released by Career Press NY in 2017. He’s also written for or been featured in places like Forbes, Inc, The NY Post, The Globe and Mail, Entrepreneur, CEO Magazine, and numerous podcasts and interviews.


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