The past few weeks have been a wakeup call for how detrimental “safety nets” have been to being my most creative, driven, effective self.

On one hand they’re a neccesary blessing. On the other; a curse to our true potential.

Here me out

We need safety nets, and we need them in all shapes and sizes. We have to be ready for the uncertainty of our future. Family, savings, trusted coworkers/employees – in some important regard, they all contribute to safety nets. But they don’t come without a monumental cost – our potential.

For me, this has taken the form of slowing my self-education because people around me had the answers, falling back on templates instead of creatively problem solving because it was a perfectly acceptable standard already in place, it’s been stalling on side-hustle because I had a full-time income already. Knowing that there has been no immediate risk for not improving my behavior was enough for me to ignore these things I know I could have done better at. My safety nets bred complacency and laziness. Unfortunately, I doubt I’m alone in that.

Safety nets let my anxieties prevail. The well-accustomed route, ready to follow, was already there – so why face my micro-fears causing friction against something uncomfortable?

Have you ever thought about the last time you felt truly “hungry”? When it felt like everything was at risk and everything to lose? When you were forced into your most focused, creative mind in order to solve the challenge(s) at hand? This dis-comfort zone is where our ambition goes into overdrive, our problem solving is at its peak, excuse-making is put on pause, and we get things DONE. 

It’s when the money is gone and your side hustle moves from “nifty idea” to absolute necessity. It’s when there’s nobody around you to tell you what the path forward looks like, so you have to learn fast, plan it well and do it right – or at least have the gusto to fail quickly. It’s when your friends and family can’t catch you but turning back isn’t an option. It’s when you’ve said yes and need to figure it out. It’s when someone’s livelihood is in your hands and doing “just enough” isn’t good enough. It’s when the run to the finish line is just as far as giving up and running back to the start. It’s when you’ve bitten off more than you can chew but you still need to swallow it. It’s when it’s time to grow – it’s hunger.

The problem with safety nets is that they remove the repercussions we would otherwise suffer by not doing something to our full capacity. With certain safety nets in play, the repercussions for not doing something you know at your core you should be doing (or could be doing better) are small enough where your motivation, creativity, drive, and sense of urgency dwindle. This is where our best work goes into hiding; where our high achieving dreams fade, and where entitlement is unfortunately born.

We need safety nets. it’s often downright irresponsible not to have then in various facets of our lives – if not for us, then for the people who rely on us. But we need to take inventory for ourselves every so often to know how they’re affecting us. Are you really pushing to be your best self right now? Or are you falling into inaction because the motivational risk isn’t there?

Don’t wait till your safety net is really gone to switch into high gear. Take inventory of your comfort zones, your safety nets, and any avoidable behavior that’s skewing you away from your best self. Most of us here are guilty of this and capable of so much more than we allow ourselves to get away with.

Do you have a safety net that has held you back? This is a learning experience for me and everyone here, so please share and tell us how you combated the negative effects of having a net to fall back on.