What The Deaths of David Bowie, Alan Rickman, and Dan Haggerty Teach Us About Playing Life Safe


With the deaths of David Bowie, Alan Rickman, and Dan Haggerty (Grizzly Adams), another piece of my youth has gone. I know we were all shocked with the passing of David Bowie— but then Alan Rickman and Dan Haggerty later in the same week? As many people say, things happen in threes, and indeed it did. We also spend time talking to our friends and colleagues about these losses, and then even post tributes on social media. We reflect on their lives and the impact they made to us. We typically are in shock over their passing and say things like “we are all only here for a short time. We have to make everything count.”

There are times when we might get down in the dumps when we examine our life as a result of the deaths of people who have had an impact on us. We desperately want to go back to our youth, and remember the good times. I was watching Die Hard over the holidays and yelling out “yippie ki yay.” It was fun to remember when I first watched Die Hard as a youth. And who can forget David Bowie in Labyrinth? For most of us, our youth was safe and fun. It wasn’t a ruthless world to us. And it got me thinking, as adults, we still seem to want to keep our training wheels on while experiencing life. We want to play it safe.

Now, I am not saying going back to your youth is a bad thing. It’s always fun to reminisce. But sometimes as adults, we want to stay in that safe environment like our youth. We want things in life, but we do not want to step out of our comfort zone to get them. We want to take risks, but we are not ready for the consequences if those risks do not pan out. I see it so many times with people. They want safety, but do not want to take risks to succeed. We go back to holding on to our training wheels, and staying inside our comfort zone. But life is so much better lived outside our comfort zone. That is where all the success and great experiences come from.

When I began my career in corporate America, I played things safe. I was very successful, but not at the elite level. I stayed in my comfort zone, watching other people have wild and amazing success after success. I would wonder why them, and not me. There were deaths of famous people and family members who had a profound impact on me, and it wouldn’t drive me to do better. I would question as to why I always played it safe. Even one of my mangers would say “you need to take more risks to succeed.” I think many of us can relate to this. We seem to play life and our careers safe. We want the reward, but do not want to put in all the hard work to get it. That was me.

Until one day, I realized, I had to take off the training wheels of life. I was part of another corporate lay off, and I was travelling back home from a conference. I remember looking out the airplane window at the blue sky, the big clouds, and asked a different question, “why am I playing it safe, and what do I need to do to not play it safe?” Once I asked a deeper question, all hell broke loose, and the training wheels weren’t taken off. They freaking broke off! So how did I make massive changes back then to propel me to where I am at now?

There were five things I did:

1. Ask Deeper Questions

It all started with deeper questions. Most of my questions were surface level questions. I would play it safe with asking questions. Instead, I went way below the surface to ask better questions. I do that with everything I am involved in now. You have to ask more and more clarifying questions. I might drive myself nuts with asking question after question, but they started to get me better information, better resources to help me, and overall amazing results.


2. Find A Mentor

When I asked these deeper questions, I started to ask things like, who do I know that is successful and what can I learn? I hired a coach and found a mentor. A mentor is someone all of us should have. In fact, you should have a few of them. They can help you when you need advice or to bounce ideas off of. They are the ones that have gone through the wars before you, that can really help you grow.


3. Learn To Take Risks

I started going to seminars to help get me out of my comfort zones. In fact, my biggest mentor, Joe White, America’s Breakthrough Expert, played a huge role in getting me out of my comfort zone. I broke arrows with my throat, bent steel rebar with my throat, broke bricks with my hands, walked barefoot on broken glass, and of course, walked on fire!! I am now a firewalker and conduct my own firewalks! All of these exercises helped me realize that in order to grow and succeed, you must get out of your comfort zone and be vulnerable and uncomfortable. The feeling is scary, but when you do things like that, you are reminded that you can succeed under any circumstances.


4. Realize That Failure Is Excellent

So many of us think failure is a bad thing. It really isn’t. It’s how we learn and grow. You have to make mistakes and fall off your bike and get hurt. When we start growing up, we begin to fail and have the understanding that it’s bad to fail. We are labeled as a loser. That’s why we love the feel good stories and movies of the person or team failing and then they rebound to great success. So then over the last 10 years to make things better, all kids get participation trophies so they do not feel like they failed. That’s just nonsense. That’s why many employees coming into the workforce have the entitlement factor. They feel that they deserve rewards when they just do the job they are supposed to do. They don’t want to fail, they just want the reward.


5. Leap, Not Walk

Taking a page from my youth, I take leaps of faith now, similar to Indiana Jones did in the Last Crusade. He took a leap with no path in front of him, just a bottomless pit below. We have to leap out of our comfort zone box, not step out or walk to grow. You can’t put a foot out of your comfort zone, and leave one in. You have to go all in!


I know if you do these five things I did, you will consistently be riding life with no training wheels, and in total control of your destiny. You may fall from time to time, but isn’t that what life is about? Like most of our parent’s said when we were young, “when you fall, get back up!”

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