All too often, our lives are scripted by what we are expected to do rather than by what we deeply desire. It makes sense considering that what we ought to do is widely accepted by society, while what we desire to do is often ridiculed. Wake up, go to work, work hard, show up on time, color inside the lines, don’t take risks, just do your job — these are all safe choices.
On the other hand, living out loud, refusing status quo, dreaming big, rolling the dice and realizing that you may fail is also taking a chance. Taking risks is, well, risky but provides a greater context in which to live your life.
I see this way of thinking often in automotive marketing. Direct mail, television, radio, SEO, social media are all opportunities that can yield a good return on investment. But ultimately, they’re safe bets. They’re what we “should do”, they are “socially accepted”.
There are other untapped marketing channels — such as content marketing, asset development, permission marketing, and nurturing that truly connects with your audience and offers returns unmet by the aforementioned sources. This at a fraction of the cost and with a reciprocal benefit. I’m not just talking about the “top of the mind” benefit that every TV rep in America is still clinging to for dear life, but real reciprocal benefit that you can literally see in a monthly report. Yet very few dealers do it.
I often scratch my head and wonder why but then I realize our business is just like life, the path most lit is socially acceptable. It’s what is expected of us by others.
In her book, The Top Five Regrets of Dying, Bronnie Ware discovers the most common regret for those at the end of life is “I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not to live a life others expected of me.” Sound familiar?
I often wonder what my life will look like at 30, at 50, at 70. Like a car deal, if you work it backwards it can provide a great deal of clarity on what truly matters, even in the face of the unknown.
At the end of the day, I think playing it safe is a lie we try to convince ourselves is right. I think it’s make believe. The truth is we only have one life to live and we should live it with purpose. Living with purpose forces you to search for deeper meaning, to not accept the status quo, to embrace the adversity of the journey, to blaze new paths with a conviction in your heart that you will grow and become better due to the knowledge you gain from the experience, regardless of the outcome.
Mark Twain once said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
I know I want my life to matter. I want to know that I make a difference. Playing it safe is not safe at all. We must forge a life of living on purpose. How about you? Is there something holding you back from making your work and your life really count?
Let’s live out loud! Let’s make new paths! Let’s pursue our dreams!