To celebrate our 50th birthdays, my wife and I (along with our three adult children and daughter in-love) went skydiving. Mike, my skydiving instructor, gave me his philosophy on life when he said, “If you are not living on the edge, you are taking up too much space.”  I’ve pondered that line many times since.

Many of us gravitate toward playing it safe as we get older.  We take less and less risk.  We envy the young who seem to have little fear of danger.  And if we do take a risk, we find ourselves carefully calculating the outcome before we jump.

But here’s what I’ve been learning. Taking on a fresh challenge, learning a new skill or traveling to a different cultural environment is when I grow the most and find the deepest fulfillment.  In reality, the really important stuff happens when I’m outside my comfort zone.

If that’s true, what can you do to increase your travels outside the comfort zone?  Let me suggest a few.
  1. Realize Risk is a Good Thing.  The reality is—we move toward things we value.  If we regularly proclaim that getting out of our comfort zone is a good thing, the more likely we are to actually takes risks.
  2. Face your Fears. If you feel anxiety when trying something new or different, you are normal. However, you don’t have to be controlled by anxiety and fear.  Mark Twain said, “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.”  Often, the ability to push through fear is the only thing that separates those who succeed from those who fail. That is true at every age.
  3. Take the First Step. When we were younger, we were more spontaneous and sometimes just crazy daring.  With little experience, it was hard to predict every thing that might go wrong so we just pushed forward. The downside of having lots of experience is that we tend to overthink a new adventure and imagine all the possibilities for calamity. We want a detailed map to the destination.  Maybe we just need to take the first step we can see clearly and then have the faith we will have the light to see the next step when we need to.
  4. Just Jump. I had anticipated skydiving for years.  But when it came right down to it and the flight master opened the door at 13,500 feet, I was secretly hoping I could kind of just slide into the sky like getting into a cold swimming pool. But when we got to the open door, Mike counted “one, two, three” and I jumped outside of my comfort zone. It was amazingly freeing and exhilarating to free fall at 125 mph for 9,000 feet!  I want to do it again when I turn 60!

William Trogdon said, “There are two kinds of adventurers: those who go truly hoping to find adventure and those who go secretly hoping they won’t.” Living on the edge inspires us, stretches us, grows us and moves us to greater accomplishments. If you are out to accomplish significant things in your life, you are going to be spending a lot of time outside your comfort zone.

QUESTION: When was the last time you moved outside your comfort zone but, in retrospect, were glad you did? Please leave a comment below!




12 responses to Live On The Edge

  1. Dennis Gingerich on October 2, 2012 at 8:35 PM Reply

    Love it!! Thanks to all of you for sharing examples of stepping out of the comfort zone!

  2. Chuck on October 2, 2012 at 5:59 PM Reply

    I would love to say that I “stepped” out of my comfort zone , actually I was “pushed” out! The push was painful at first, but that pain quickly faded when I realized the good life that I thought I had, was trumped by the incredible life that I would have never known if I had stayed in my mis-perceived comfort zone. Thanks for the memory jog.

  3. Joyce Shaffner on October 2, 2012 at 5:54 PM Reply

    Several years ago I felt called to take part in a mission trip to Nicaragua, my family did not want me to go but I heard the LORD telling me to go he would watch over me. The trip was amazing, it was the first time I prayed out loud with a large group. This was a major turning point in my relationship with the Lord. I hope to have the opportunity to return there again. After that trip I went on 12 more mission trips, 10 outside of the USA.

  4. Sandra on October 2, 2012 at 3:27 PM Reply

    Very recently I stepped outside my comfort zone and openly prayed with someone for the first time in my 58 years of life. I have no idea how much they heard of the prayer, I cried through the whole thing. Oh well, God knows my heart. I am so glad I got to pray with them before they left for an extended stay in a residential rehab program. By the way Dennis, it seems a shame to jump out of a perfectly good airplane. I would not be so brave, I even hate roller coasters.

  5. Ray and Joan Buck on October 2, 2012 at 1:32 PM Reply

    We just sent a letter to our Christian friends of both parties reminding them of the importance of this election. We thought it worth the risk of talking politics to friends to make them think about the loss of freedom that WILL come to Christians and to Americans as a whole if their choice is made on the personal level only. If we do not treasure the freedoms our Constitution affords us it will be trampled. So far we’ve only received one nasty reply.

  6. Cris on October 2, 2012 at 12:32 PM Reply

    So, based on Instructor Mike’s statement, I must admit I’m “taking too much space”!! However, as a senior citizen, I’m becoming more and more aware of the need to make some adjustments. Thank you, Dennis for the reminder that taking risks is not necessarily all bad! Besides, it might just be really fun!

  7. Pam on October 2, 2012 at 10:44 AM Reply

    I recently went four wheeling in Colorado, which is totally out of my comfort zone. Several weeks ago I even went water skiing in the Gulf. I turned 50 this past July.

  8. Joyce Gingerich on October 2, 2012 at 10:10 AM Reply

    It is becoming easier/more exciting to take those risks. As God puts the risk taking opportunities in my lap, I have not other option than to JUMP. As I experience God’s blessings as I go out of my comfort zone, I can’t wait to see what is next. Thanks Dennis!

  9. ray on October 2, 2012 at 9:34 AM Reply

    Through life I have taken many risk outside my comfort zone and they all seem to work out. Most for the good but a few not so good. It is a challenge to me to take on a project that seem difficult but with determination it always gets done. Sometimes I may need a little encouragement to take that first step but after that I’m always on a dead run. With determination most things are possible.

  10. Jean on October 2, 2012 at 8:21 AM Reply

    Just getting on a plane makes me anxious. But, I know by doing so, it will take me to places I want to see. When we traveled to Europe in 2009, flying so long over such a great body of water was not something I wanted to do. But, once we landed, I was so glad I got on that plane.

    • Linda on October 2, 2012 at 8:52 AM Reply

      When the risk taking life-style spills over into our faith journey with God… Life really becomes exciting!

  11. Barb on October 2, 2012 at 7:44 AM Reply

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I have certainly gotten out of my box in our travels and have had many great adventures. The box is shinier on the outside.

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