A Dangerous Business

January 9, 2013

“It’s a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no telling where you might be swept off to.”

I am a big Tolkien fan. But I did not discover him until I was an adult. Although I enjoyed Sci-fi as a kid, I was not very interested in fantasy literature. I finally read through The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings after I saw Peter Jackson’s first film. I fell in love with the world of Middle Earth, the characters, and the fellowship forged through common adventures.

I saw The Hobbit movie this past week and re-read the book. I am a lot like Bilbo. I like comfort and like when things are “normal.” I am glad for the certain routines that bring structure to my life. And to be honest, I am more prone to choose safety than to step into the uncomfortable ground outside my comfort zone.

But my heart is also drawn to adventure. So much so that I have stepped out of my comfort zone because the pull of adventure upon my heart was too strong to resist. I believe Bilbo is the same way.

I don’t know that I have ever really considered myself a “courageous man.” It has taken the observations of others to help me to stop and consider that the direction I am moving is courageous.

So often the reason that I move out of my comfort zone is because there is a dissonance in my heart. I am not the kind of person that can live with that. Other times, I just have a strong desire to do something. The call of adventure pulls on my heart. It is why I found myself living in Hungary 15 years ago.

Another reason why I can have trouble seeing myself as courageous is because I spent a lot of time in a culture where everyone was courageous. For 16 years, I was part of a Christian ministry where everyday was a faith adventure as we depended upon donations from churches and individuals to put food on the table. We were constantly challenged to respond to the mission and go new places and try to solve problems that were not easy to solve. When you are surrounded everyday by courageous people, it can be easy to take that approach to life for granted.

But I realized recently, not everyone is willing to pay the price and to act courageous to move in a new direction in their life.

Let me pause a second to set the record straight. I don’t want to come off as someone who has it all figured out or has it all together. I don’t always act quickly. I can let fear keep me from moving forward. To be honest, when I look at my life and see all the ways that I have acted courageously, I am in awe. I cannot believe that I have done many of the things I have done. How could that be me?

Reluctant Adventurer

Just as Bilbo, I feel like a reluctant adventurer. I am tempted to stay in the comfort, safety, and certainty. But for me, I cannot live very long with the dissonance in my life and “have” to act and seek change.

I share this because I want to encourage others. Step out on the road. Choose to have courage. Seek to change your life when you sense it is time to move on to something new and more challenging. It is worth it.

One of my scariest adventures

Three years ago, I took one of the most courageous steps of my life. I left an organization that I had been with almost 17 years as an employee and had been involved with for 6 years as a volunteer before that. I really liked my job. I had a lot of friends there. I loved being part of the cause. When I started, I thought I would be there my entire career.

But God has other plans. He put other desires on my heart. The dissonance built. I had to move on. And it was not quite how I expected. I had hoped to find another job to jump to. But that was not happening. And for a variety of reasons, it was time for me to go. Without another job, without a place to land. With a wife and three kids, that was incredibly scary. But I drew courage from my relationship with God because I knew He was in control and I could trust Him.

Things did work out. It took a bit longer than I had hoped to get a full-time job. We were blessed with a great severance and I was able to pick up some freelance work to sustain my family. I eventually landed at Bonnier Corporation, where I have spent the last two years. It has been a challenging environment and I have grown exponentially in my skills.

I share this to prove my point. It is worth it. Yes it was difficult road. It took me far beyond the realm of comfort and safety that I would have chosen. But it was also rich and exhilarating to follow my heart and seek the work experiences I had longed for.

But my story does not stop there. I have stepped out on the road again. In just a couple of days I will leave Bonnier for a new opportunity. I am really excited about what is next. My patience and persistence have paid off and I believe I have found a dream job. This step will involve relocating so it is a pretty big deal. So there is a lot of adventure ahead.

I start my new role on Monday. I will be working remotely from Orlando till later this spring. I will be sharing more about it next week after my new employer has had a chance to share the news.


Be courageous. Chase your dreams. Go for it. Don’t let fear stop you for making a change in your life.

I just started reading Seth Godin’s book, The Icarus Deception last night. The world has changed. To succeed in today’s brave new world, we need to act courageously. There is so much opportunity out there. This book might be a great resource to help you get started.

See you on the road.

1 Comment

  1. david wood

    February 4th, 2013

    Jeff, you wrote this just for me. “Courage” is my word for 2013. I am joining you on the open road!