When we have a comfortable job, a happy family, and a stable life; it can be all too easy to sit back and enjoy the ride rather than take the risks we need to challenge ourselves and truly grow. Speaker, coach, television personality and author of Stop Playing Safe, Margie Warrell, believes that taking emotional and social risks and being unafraid of failure is the key to living the inspiring life we deserve.
We spoke to Margie about how to let go of the fear that is holding us back and become a courageous woman. Here’s some of what she had to say;
“I really believe the more uncertain the world is, the faster it is, the more competitive it is and the more we have to be willing to get outside our comfort zone to speak up and to take that risk because I think that’s what gets you noticed…”
“We have to teach our kids how to discern what’s a smart risk and what’s a stupid risk for themselves because if we don’t let them take risks when they’re growing up, then they can do really stupid things when they’re out in the world and the stakes are so much higher.”
“Anything that you really want to do, that you’re passionate about, will call you to put your vulnerability on the line; to take those risks. And sometimes that’s not going to work out the way that you want it to.”
Watch the complete interview and read the transcript below for more of Margie’s inspirational insights on the telltale signs someone else is setting your agenda, how to become more courageous, when to draw the line at work, and more.
Complete Video Transcript: Margie Warrel Stop Playing Safe
RESCU: Hi you’re on Rescu. TV. Today I’m really delighted to introduce you to Margie Warrell, an amazing author, speaker, coach and television personality who we’re lucky enough to sit with to talk about being courageous and fearless in our lives, in business, with our husbands, with our children…
Margie Warrell: With our friends…
RESCU: All of the above. Margie, you’ve written a number of books around this subject and your latest book, is this one which I think is going to become a working woman’s bible, ‘Stop Playing Safe’. Tell me about where you were coming from when you’re talking about playing it safe.
Margie Warrell: Yeah well you know, I think when I talk about playing safe, I’m talking about not putting ourselves at risk and often when we think about taking risk, we think about financial risk or physical risk but I’m really talking about that emotional and social risk; that we don’t want to put our reputation on the line, that we don’t want to speak up and have a conversation in case we’re rejected or we ruffle feathers or we, you know, hurt someone’s feelings. So, when I talk about stop playing safe, I’m really about getting people to think bigger and about what they want to do with their lives, to take bolder actions, to be braver in the conversations that they are having because I, I guess, by having worked around the world, I’ve seen so many people held back because they’re playing safe. They’re too afraid to fail, to look foolish and it really holds them back.
RESCU: So let’s talk about your work around the world. You spend a lot of time in the US and in fact, you’ve been living there for the past ten years and you’ve just moved back to Australia. One of the things that I think really shook up people’s ability to really feel probably a bit riskier is what happened in 2008, 2009; the GFC. And, the knock on effects that are having in Australia’s economy with working families, women, is that people are losing their jobs, people are re-entering the workforce, maybe after having a baby, and the world has changed since they were here last. How do you become a risk taker? How do you not jeopardise yourself and your career in that environment of that’s changed so much.
Margie Warrell: Yeah, well look that’s a great question and obviously we’ve always got to way up pros and cons and how much we can afford to lose.
Margie Warrell: But that said, when things get more competitive and when it is uncertain, our natural response to uncertainty is to pull back, to stick with what we know; to not take risks. And the fact is that if we don’t take risks, if we don’t speak up, if we don’t try things, we actually can put ourselves more at risk of losing our job or not getting the promotion that we want.
RESCU: Not getting noticed.
Margie Warrell: Yeah, so while there’s obviously a difference between saying, “that’s it, I quit my job and I’m going to do a start-up”, and just saying, “you know what, I’m not going to just sit here in the meeting and say nothing; I’m going to actually speak up, I’m going to contribute, I’m going to put my hand-up and I’m going to try something different.” So, obviously risk lies on a spectrum so when I wrote ‘Stop Playing Safe’, you know, for some people it might be just literally taking on a whole new path in their life but for others, it’s just being bolder and more courageous in what we do on a daily basis and I really believe the more uncertain the world is, the faster it is, the more competitive it is and the more we have to be willing to get outside our comfort zone to speak up and to take that risk because I think that’s what gets you noticed and that’s where you add more value and ultimately, that’s where we create more security for ourselves and not less.
RESCU: So I have a question for you. You’re a mother of four and I’m a mother of a toddler and I think that one of the big challenges when you’re a parent is to give just enough freedom and opportunity for your children to express themselves, to experiment with life and I guess you want to be there like a cheer squad and then on the other side, I think one of the first sentences you utter to your child is “be careful, be careful, don’t do that, be careful”. How do you teach, you know… I’m a mother of a young girl so I guess how do you teach the next generation of young women to be fearless, to be courageous. How do you start now?
Margie Warrell: Mhmm. I have a fourteen year old daughter and three boys so I’ve had to walk this path and I continue to walk it. I think that obviously, we don’t want our kids to be hurt and we want to protect them; it’s the instinct of every mother and every parent to want to protect your children. But by the same token, we have to teach our kids how to discern what’s a smart risk and what’s a stupid risk for themselves because if we don’t let them take risks when they’re growing up, then they can do really stupid things when they’re out in the world and the stakes are so much higher.
Margie Warrell: So I think that we have to give them a little bit of free reign and obviously for a toddler, it’s different than with a fourteen year old. We have to trust them, we have to let them know, you know, I’m here, I’m your backup, I’m your safety net but, you know, you need to step out of your comfort zone. You need to take on things that stretch you and I know, like, even for my fourteen year old daughter, you know, what is it going… what can I do for her which is going to allow her to thrive in the world and to be bold and to be courageous and I think that’s where having people really believe in themselves and those resilience skills that whatever you try, even if it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t define you. You define yourself. Go after the things that you are passionate about. Do the things that excite you. But don’t expect it to all go to plan and don’t expect that you’ll be always met with success.
RESCU: That’s the cool thing. There’s this enormous amount of praise and appreciation in our culture for success and so there’s this, as you said, there’s this thing of everything we do and there’s this, you know, accolades…
Margie Warrell: Yeah, everyone has to win a trophy.
Margie Warrell: Everyone has to come first, yeah.
RESCU: Yeah, so you know, perhaps that’s the shadow side that if you don’t learn about the beauty of scraping your knees and the inevitability of not being a winner in every single instance…
Margie Warrell: And for us in our own lives, that’s just it. So often people don’t try things because they’re not 100% guaranteed that they’ll succeed.
RESCU: Yeah, or be good at it.
Margie Warrell: And you know every worthwhile endeavour is going to involve an element of risk. Anything that you really want to do, that you’re passionate about, will call you to put your vulnerability on the line; to take those risks. And sometimes that’s not going to work out the way that you want it to. That’s just life. And I think when we know that we’re not defined by our environment, we’re not defined by our wins or our losses; that we ultimately do define ourselves and that when we have that faith that whatever happens, that ‘I can handle it’, I think it really opens whole new realms of possibility and you go, well, if I can handle anything, what is it that I really want to do and I really believe that…
RESCU: So, if I could dream the big dream, what would it be?
Margie Warrell: Yeah and I think too often we don’t even dream the big dream…
Margie Warrell: … because that in itself puts us at risk because as soon as we let our imagination go and you go, ‘what if I really could have what I want’, then suddenly we feel vulnerable: ‘what if I can’t achieve it’. And I think that moment, soon as we connect with that big vision, the next moment is overwhelm and vulnerability. So, it’s about having the courage to dream bigger, to think bigger but then, having that courage to take a step and go, ‘you know what, I’m going to put myself at risk, I’m going to dare’. But it’s only when we do that, we realise that we could do more than we thought we could and people will often say to me, “but I don’t feel that brave”, “I wish I was more confident” and you know, “I’m going to wait till I feel more courageous.” I’m like, don’t wait, because you learn to be more courageous by doing courageous things.
RESCU: By being courageous.
Margie Warrell: By doing things that scare you. And so, to my kids, I encourage them to do things that scare them a little bit because that’s where you build confidence and for me, I think… I grew up on a Dairy Farm – one of seven kids – and left home at eighteen to move to the city which was scary and then at twenty-one, went travelling around the world for a few years which was a bit scary. But all the time, it taught me, you know…
RESCU: You were stretching, stretching, stretching…
Margie Warrell: … I’m capable of more than I think and when I look around at other people, I see so many people not living the lives they’re capable of because they don’t trust themselves to be able to succeed at whatever it is that excites and inspires them.
RESCU: So I’m going to get you to put your life coach hat on and I’m going to ask you to share with us, what are a few key things that we can, in an Australian context because we’re not American so perhaps we have a slightly different cultural appetite for being risky and… what are a few of your expert tips that you would give to us as a client or that you would share with our readers on how to really embrace and stretch yourself.
Margie Warrell: Well, first I would say, picture yourself five years from now and think about how old you’ll be and if you’ve got kids, think about how your kids will be and really connect with a vision. What is the life you’d love to be living five years from now? And sometimes I’ve done this with ten years from now if you want to be bigger and bolder again. But connect with something that really inspires you because we’re motivated by two things as humans; to seek pleasure and avoid pain. So one, connect with what excites and inspires you, but two, picture yourself five years from now. If you do nothing, if you stay on that path of least resistance, if you play safe, if you don’t make the changes that you’re sort of maybe feeling you want to make or you don’t take the chances, how will you feel about yourself five years from now if that’s the case? And I think getting people to, one, connect with the vision that excites them but also, what’s the cost of inaction? Because so often…
RESCU: Yes, yes, yes…
Margie Warrell: … we discount or deny the cost of inaction and we go, ‘oh, it’s not so bad; it’s fine’. But often, it’s not that fine and things that aren’t that good, whether it be a relationship with our partner, whether it’s our job, our career, any area of our life (health, wellbeing, finances)… any area of our life that’s not great now and the less we actually get outside of our comfort zone to make changes, take chances, it actually just gets worse.
RESCU: Well thank you so much and you can learn… this is the manual for really changing the way that you feel about risk and ‘Stop Playing Safe’. Thank you so much for joining us.
Margie Warrell: My pleasure.