Humans Are Not Hardwired to Play it Safe

Rich Habits
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An old friend of mine retired from the IRS. He began working for the IRS right out of college. If he reduces his spending and watches his pennies, he told me his retirement income should allow him to get by. He said he’d be able to take one decent vacation a year, so long as it’s inexpensive. I asked him if he was happy and he said he’s happy he no longer has to work but he said he feels like he accomplished nothing with his life.

There’s nothing wrong with playing it safe. There’s safety in numbers. The very reason human beings survived the cave man days was because we organized into herds. We banded together and avoided taking unnecesary risks. And we survived.

Thankfully, there was always at least one or two outliers in every human herd. These outliers took risks that the others dared not take. These risks jeopardized the safety of every outlier.

The very reason humans can fly to the moon, talk to someone thousands of miles away on a phone, flick a switch to turn on the lights or turn a knob and get instant water is because of some outlier who took a risk. And that risk benefited all of humanity.

While humans have evolved to play it safe, we are not genetically hard-wired that way. Deep down in each one of us is an adventurer gene. This gene is always fighting to break free from the herd. We are genetically hard-wired to take risks, to explore, to be pioneers. We are not hard-wired to work for the IRS, retire and die. 

If you follow me, read my books or articles or watch or listen to any of my media interviews, it is because of that adventurer inside of you. Deep down you want your life to have significance and meaning. You want to make your mark on this world. Deep down you know that playing it safe will not produce the life you desire. 

In order to create the life of your dreams, you must step outside the herd and take risks in life. You must pursue your dreams, goals and embrace opportunities that frighten everyone else. That is what the self-made millionaires in my study, at some point in their lives, decided to do. They made a fateful decision, a courageous decision, to step outside the herd and not play it safe.

Tom Corley is an accountant, financial planner and author of “Rich Kids: How to Raise Our Children to Be Happy and Successful in Life”, Effort-Less Wealth, Change Your Habits Change Your Life, Rich Habits Poor Habits and “Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals.”