The choice of whether to be “safe” or to go after opportunity and what we truly desire is one that we must make throughout our lives.
And if we’re choosing to go for what we want, we are leaving safety behind, accepting risk and going against what most people think is practical.
When I look back on my journey to what got me here…..it’s always the risk that propelled me forward, and safety that held me back.
In 1990 I packed up 5 suitcases, boarded a plane and moved from my parents home and the house where I was born in Montreal to Vancouver to move out for the first time. I had a place to stay – I was moving in with SIX other young women into a house and was going to be sharing a bedroom – sleeping on the floor on a foam mattress. Talk about a huge change from my comfortable home and bedroom. I had 4K in the bank, no job, not sure what I was going to do.
I found a job within a couple of weeks. It was a good job. A safe job. Eventually they paid for me to enroll in what was then the CGA program (now CPA) I stayed there almost 9 years. I did quit twice and got rehired twice, before I finally left for good in 1999. The times in between are a bit of a blur and each time I left I took a risk. But it was the call of SAFETY that brought me back each time.
After all, I had a “good” paycheque. Benefits. And my school was paid for.
But I wasn’t happy. I stopped giving them my best. The owner and I were constantly scrapping and arguing. And one fateful day over a cup of coffee, it ended. I’m not sure if I was fired or if I quit. It really was a mutual and natural end that made sense for both of us. (We’re on great terms ’til this day. And my gratitude to him for everything he did for me in those years still fills my heart.)
I had no idea what I was going to do.
Mike and I had just recently bought our first condo and had been talking a lot about how cool it would be to have a job where we could work from home. At the time “job” was so ingrained in my thinking that entrepreneurship wasn’t even a remote thought.
So I took a couple months off and got a puppy. (Bugsy. The best thing that ever happened from losing a job).
And here’s the other interesting thing: Mike still worked at the company I had just left. AWKWARD!!!! And shortly after I left, he was approached by an independent rep firm in the same industry to offer him a job as a manufacturer rep- 100 percent commission. No benefits.
So yes, to the way we thought back then it was still a “job” but here I was unemployed no income. And this “job” meant Mike was leaving the security of a guaranteed paycheque for commission. And we just had a new mortgage… After lots of thinking and spreadsheeting and calculating we decided to do it.
We were as terrified as we were excited. This was actually the first time we understood that we could control or increase our income. And we could just as easily go the other way. The owner of the rep firm did help us out by advancing mike a guaranteed amount against his commissions not yet earned. It was a small amount and 100% repayable as a loan. So….now we were also creating debt.
I still didn’t have a job. And Mike just left behind the only security we knew. So to help out I got some contracts with a building maintenance company to do some commercial cleans.
YES. I WORKED AS A JANITOR.
And omg. I actually LOVED it. Really I did. Why? Because I controlled my schedule. I got a taste of freedom. I got to move my body. It was a break from the 9 to 5 And I made more money in 2 hours than I used to make all day. And it helped with cash flow for Mike to get his business off the ground. But it wasn’t consistent. I was a backup for when regulars couldn’t do their buildings. But after 6 months I still didn’t have my own building so I knew it was time to move on.
And so later that year I went back to work in accounting. I got a good job 5 minutes from my apartment. No commuting. Woo hoo!
And speaking of the apartment, it was really small. And mike and I started to look, to dream, and to want a bigger place. We couldn’t afford to buy a bigger place in the city so we started looking at places further out of town. And then we found a perfect place. And it was more money than we thought we’d ever afford and it was SO far away from the life we knew, and from my job. And we went for it.
During our time in that little house we added another puppy, Lola, to our lives, met some amazing new friends and as my education progressed, and finally after 10 years of going to school while working full time, I graduated. I switched jobs twice and up-levelled my income each time. I was living the classic middle class dream of mediocrity disguised in safety. My dream was to pay that mortgage off. I thought that would give me freedom.
But that house was dark, and I was unhappy there. And a few years later we decided to move. Instead of paying off that mortgage… the next house we wanted was DOUBLE the price of ours. And… the builder would not accept an offer to purchase contingent on the sale of the house we were in. We had to just make the offer and trust we would sell.
Risk. Uncertainty. And oh so scary.
I knew, though, that staying safe meant nothing would change. So we went for it and our house sold so fast and to meet our buyers terms meant we had to move out 3 months before our move in day in the new place and we had TWO dogs. Not the easiest arrangement for a rental, never mind a short term one.
Risk. Uncertainty. And we found an interim place.
We moved into that house and it needed landscaping and the basement finished. At the time between us we barely were making 150K Canadian. But to us that was HUGE as a few years earlier it was about 60K combined. And the choices we made, while risky, allowed us to make that leap. Mike certainly had some lean years but now had settled quite nicely into that role and was steady. So we took the leap of faith to do the renovations / finishing.
Risk. Uncertainty. And yet somehow the money just showed up. And we finished that beautiful dream home.
Then, a couple years later, just as Mike’s income had gone from stable to growing, the company he was working for as a 100 percent commission rep was getting out of the rep business. So we decided instead of finding a similar gig, it was time for Mike to step out under his own brand and launch his own rep firm. That meant no advances or loans in lean months, and he was responsible for finding companies to represent.
Risk. Uncertainty. And the most powerful decision ever – accepting 100% responsibility.
And suddenly his income blew up! No more splitting commission with his firm., no more being bound to sell what someone else told him. It was awesome. Money just started flowing in. We couldn’t believe how fast things changed when we took full responsibility for our results.
Staying safe was eliminating our upside. That was a life changing realization.
And then MY world changed. There were huge changes at my company. And I knew that staying in the role I was in would rip my soul out. It was financially safe. It was the “smart choice”, but SO not fulfilling.
There was another opportunity in the company. It was a prize role. I wanted it SO desperately. They kept saying “No. you are not qualified “. And I kept refusing to take NO for an answer.
Finally I heard a “Yes”. However it was a “Yes, but…”. The deal was – it is s 6 month trial. And in doing so I’m fully giving up my secure safe job, and if at the end of 6 months I prove I’m qualified, I can stay. If I don’t, I’m done. And since this is a new and temporary contract I’ve given up my severance on my tenure and there is none on this. And oh yeah- the job was full time in Alaska. I couldn’t do it from Vancouver. But I could go home on the weekends to spend time with Mike. I also had a near 500K mortgage at the time.
I SAID YES.
I had no idea what decision they would make about me at the end of 6 months, nor did I quite know how to break this news to Mike. What I did know is that I could count on ME. And I trusted me.
Mike fully supported me.
Everyone else I knew cautioned me strongly against it.
Not only did I far exceed their expectations, and stayed on for 3 and a half years, I multiplied my income beyond my imagination, had a near 7 figure year, paid off that mortgage and changed my whole life. The life experiences I got to enjoy in that role, and living part time in Alaska are even more valuable to me than the $$. It was truly a highlight and privileged time of my life.
And… also important to note -this happened over the economic downturn of 2008. While I was in this new role, almost everyone I worked with previously were let go in mass lay offs. Had I stayed “safe” I would have been one of them. Playing it safe never is.
But as natural as the sun setting, life goes in rhythms, and things changed again at that company. I was still “Safe” but again unfulfilled. And if you think going to a job you hate every day because of a secure paycheque is life draining – try doing that in a different country away from friends and family.
So one fateful evening, an email that was the last straw came while I was at home on a precious break. I was eating a donair in the kitchen and I ended up throwing it across the kitchen. And as I was standing there in a pile of exploded donair Mike said “I think you’re done”. I Said “I agree”. And just like that at the pinnacle of a career that took me 20 years to build, with no idea what I’d do next, I quit by blackberry surrounded by donair remains.
Risk. Uncertainty. But feeling free.
Shortly after, I enrolled in nutrition and personal training courses. For some reason I thought this was the way to go. It wasn’t a fit. And then after that I ended up working a few jobs and contracts. All back in mining- my safety zone.
And I stagnated. I was miserable. And even so I took a VP position because that’s what I was supposed to do right ?
The money was great. The situation, horrible.
Long story short, I dabbled with a couple more mining contracts and then eventually went out on my own. And started my coaching biz in 2013. I knew how to negotiate great contracts for other people, and how to negotiate amazing pay for me. But I had no idea how to sell or find clients or even how to step into this new identity as “coach”
I still had a security blanket. That was my professional accounting designation. It was my fall back plan. My credibility hook (at least I thought ) and what I spent 10 years working hard to get and then the next 10 years working in. However with that designation came restrictions on the type of business I could run. And so of course I complied. After all, weren’t they the final “say so”?
After a couple of years trying to build a business that fit into THEIR mold, and completely limiting my potential, purpose and income, I decided to call them and see what they’d give me permission to do. (The middle class mindset and subconscious programming is so insidious …. but I digress….)
It turns out what I was already doing wasn’t permitted under their (CGA) code of conduct and so I needed to really restrict my offerings or do something totally different. I was devastated. “How could they do this?” I then realized I was falling into the safety trap again and giving control of my results to something outside myself.
I realized that while they owned the designation, I owned my experience and expertise. And it wasn’t their choice how I spend my life. And so with trembling hands and a lot of tears (and wine) and against the advice of many peers in the financial world- “How will you get a job?”, “What if your business doesn’t take off?”, “You worked so hard for this!”, “This represents 20 years of your life!”, etc.”- I filled out the resignation paperwork, and as required took my certificates off the wall, out of the frames, and mailed them back. (I then took a hammer to those frames)
Risk. Uncertainty. And just like when I took that job in Alaska, I knew that the only thing I can count on is me.
Well it was after that when my business finally started to blossom. Because I was free. Because I got to call the shots.
And so it went along nicely for a few years. I made a decent income. Not like my corporate days but near 6 figures. My house was paid for. My clients amazing. My schedule my own. Mikes business was soaring. We travelled to nice places and money was no issue. Never even had to think about it.
I was comfortable. And safe. And oh so unsatisfied. By everyone else’s standard I’d made it. I could slow down. I had safety they couldn’t even dream of.
AND I WANTED MORE.
I wanted to serve in a greater way.
My dreams of Horsemanship were really unfolding. I wanted my own acreage.
I dreamt of adding equine-facilitated coaching to my world.
I was a closet right brain, softer “woo-woo” gal on the inside who had spent so many years putting on a left brain persona. It was “safe” to keep my coaching all nuts and bolts. But I knew to really help my clients I had to keep the nuts and bolts as a bonus and go to the dark – er – right side, and bring my coaching to a much deeper level of the person.
I wanted to make much much more money. After you’ve tasted what it’s like to make a million dollars, you are changed at a cellular level. And it’s not even so much about the money as it is about who you become. And let’s be clear- I didn’t need more money. I deeply desired it. And I’m so OK sharing that.
And so, if there was one thing the 26 years prior to that point taught me – safety isn’t safe at all, and fulfillment requires risk and uncertainty. And what got me here to this amazing place in my life WON’T get me to the next.
So I made the decision to up- level the mentor I was working with. I chose to work with THE best. I had wanted to for years, but I didn’t think I could afford him. And at that point I didn’t think I could either. After all, I was making just shy of 100K CAD. And the two programs I was enrolling in were 140K USD. PLUS travel.
But I also knew I couldn’t afford not to. Sure nothing “bad” was gonna happen. And I had SO much gratitude for the life I had. And I was not satisfied. And settling for OK (even if my “ok” is someone else’s dream, doesn’t mean it’s right) and a life not fully realized to me was WAY worse than “bad”
Risk. Uncertainty. And maybe a little bit of insanity.
Every fear button was pushed for sure. I got bucked from my horse the day I signed the contract.
My fear of financial loss and debt temporarily paralyzed me to the point, for the first time in years, I started to go backwards.
I did the most important thing I could have done. I didn’t tell my coach what I wanted him to hear (yes, I’ve done that in the past and then got no results and if you’re honest with yourself you know you have too and seen a similar lack of results ). I told him the truth.
Risk. Uncertainty. On a totally emotional level.
That was not a fun day. I’ll spare you the details.
But it was a GREAT day. Everything turned around including for the first time turning my annual income into a monthly one.
My clients went from getting good results to getting unheard of results as they started doing the same.
I became masterful at sales to the point I teach it now.
My Horsemanship soared. To the point I realized I CAN bring horses and coaching together and started that amazing journey.
I started to bring forth all the softer and spiritual yearnings for myself and into my coaching practice. Oh bringing it forward scared me like you have no idea. Can I go there? Will my clients accept it? And wow, they did. And as I’ve learned, bringing together the practical with the purposeful and passion-full is what creates magic and IS my superpower.
I suddenly realized I had found true freedom. It didn’t come from a bank balance, a mutual fund, or being mortgage free. It only came from one place. WITHIN me.
There was one piece of unfinished business…
I still didn’t have an acreage. And in the Vancouver area any equine place was going to be multiple 7 figures and to be the standard to which I live, would require hundreds of thousands of dollars in renovations and upgrades and of course a mortgage. Something I hadn’t had in years. And now how the heck do we qualify for the amount we need as entrepreneurs ?
I had a place to board my horse and any other ones that may come into my life. And board is certainly cheaper than a property purchase. My current house was beautiful. A dream home. Paid for in full. And an incredible asset. It was my safety net. Oops. There’s that word again.
The acreage was the missing piece of my puzzle to bring everything together
And so we made the decision to sell the home we bought brand new and problem free with zero yard maintenance (which as I mentioned above was a risk at the time and now we were selling for 2.5 x purchase price ) and move to this beautiful but desperately in need of work 30 year old home and horse property
Risk. Uncertainty. And waking up feeling fulfilled and ecstatic every day.
Day by day the property gets better as we make it ours and have the work done to make it perfect. Day by day our businesses blossom even more as we are living totally on purpose. Day by day our clients continue to blow me away with their own quantum leaps.
Has it been 100 percent smooth sailing? Oh hell nah. If you’ve been following, you know we’ve had challenges. And in all the risky decisions I’ve made these past 28 years while the outcomes have been amazing, the journey has had its ups and downs.
And it’s the journey that makes it all worthwhile. It’s the journey, not the outcomes, that makes you who you are.
And most important- See a pattern here? The biggest and somewhat crazy risks that I took led to some of the biggest highlights of my life so far and have led me on my path to develop my passion into something that I can share with the world. And every time I chose safety, I stagnated.
I don’t know what’s next as at the moment. I feel anything BUT safe and comfortable. But when I do, you’ll know it because I’ll be taking a new leap. Human growth and potential is never capped. Unless the individual decides they’re done. I never will until I’m 6 feet under.
If you’re still with me… go back up to the top of this post. You’ll see I had lots of opportunity to choose the logical and safe route. But all of them, while safe in the moment, were not safe at all as they were dead end roads.
Discovering your life’s purpose & passion looks different for everyone; but it has something in common across the board— it requires you to leave normal and to take a risk. To leap!
Sometimes you take that leap and it doesn’t go as planned. Things break. You don’t get the client. You create debt. Relationships get strained. You may lose before you win. It sets you back before it propels you forward. It looks like failure to a lot of people.
I so understand that, more than you realize. And I also know at a visceral level that all of that is just noise and your subconscious mind and ego trying to keep you stuck.
If you keep your eyes on what you desire most and you take those jumps along the way, it will lead you to discovering your purpose and open doors and opportunities you never knew existed.
But if you stick to what you know and never risk, or face uncertainty, or keep looking to others and outside sources and forces for your security- You will never know. You may never fail or have a huge loss – but you will also never truly succeed. You will be safe, not fulfilled. Not rich, just safe.
Think long hard about that. Who is the person who never takes that jump? Who is the person who is safe? What opportunities have you missed out on to feel safe? Is practicality really worth your soul’s calling ?
Playing it safe means you don’t get to experience what life really is: An opportunity to pursue the depths of human passion and in the process bring your gift to the world and share it with others to leave their legacy and inspire change.
Playing it safe means living life forgetting who it is you truly wanted to be before someone “older and wiser” told you it can’t be done.
Playing it safe means you never get to truly live while you’re alive.
It can be terrifying to leave the box we surround ourselves in. But how will you ever achieve anything different if you don’t venture outside and try something new?
If there’s one thing I learned that day I fell – fear of going after what you want, is a fear of what may happen tomorrow or the day after. The thing is, you can only control today.
So make the best decisions you can for today. (And best doesn’t mean safe, it means best) and just watch and see how the accumulate into amazing tomorrows.
Please, don’t be afraid of the unknown. Don’t be afraid of risk. Safety isn’t safe at all.
Don’t be afraid of tomorrow. Be afraid of the un-lived life today.