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Get Smart And Just Do It: A Reflection

Updated on April 7, 2010

"Life goes by very fast and you're a long time in the ground. So, you either have to hurt yourself, or the people you love, but you have to do it now." —as told to Don Adams by his mother

I'm such a damn conservative. I mean, I'm not talking about my political leanings, though it just so happens that I am a conservative in that respect as well. I'm talking about being conservative in life in general. I'm a guy who is very much risk averse. I mean, it has served me well over the years, don't get me wrong. I've done okay for myself as far as I'm concerned. I've got a little bit of investment property, I've got a few bucks tucked aside for a rainy day in my bank account, and I do play the stock market. I even take on a little bit of risk in doing that, but not a lot. Not nearly a lot.

I'm not rich. I'm not in my own business. I've got a few bucks lying around that I could start one. And, I've got a few ideas tucked away somewhere about what kind of business I could start.

But that means invading my comfort zone to do it. It means taking on quite a lot more risk than I'm wanting to. It means opening up the possibility of losing things.

I mean, I'm not really all that different than most people are, I suppose. It's hard to make change. It's hard to take on risk. It's hard to leave one's comfort zone and delve into areas of the unknown. It can be as scary as walking blindfolded along an unfamiliar street. You don't know where the curbs are, the sign poles, the traffic, and at any moment you could find yourself face down on the ground after an awful trip, or sailing through the air after making a surprise meeting with the hood of a passing car.

I like to know where I'm going, thank you very much.

But what Don Adams' mother told him one day is rather profound. Life goes by very fast and you're a long time in the ground. You really only get one time around the bend. One shot. This is it. You better make it worth it. That's what it says to me. Because once it's done, you'll be in the ground for a hell of a lot longer than you were ever up here.

If you are going to do it, you better get on with doing it, because it's quick and before you know it, it's done.

Lights out folks. Show's over.

I remember my grandfather telling me many years ago about a decision he made once in his life. He had been working for a company that made tractors and things, Allis-Chalmers, at the West Allis plant near Milwaukee, and he simply decided one day that he had had enough of it. And so he quit. I don't recall what it was that drew him to that decision, ultimately, what the dynamic was, but whatever it was, he made the decision that that was what he was going to do, and that was it. Heedless of the consequences. He wasn't happy with it, and so it was time to move on.

But that was a good paying job back then, you know? Good pay. Good, solid benefits. And he had mouths to feed. Three daughters and a son, and of course there was his wife at home as well. And like anyone would have, there were bills to pay. And there did come a time that he regretted making the decision. "I think I made a mistake," he told himself once. "I thought, maybe I had been a little too cocky."

But then, hindsight is always 20/20. He eventually wound up working for what was then American Motors, which was ultimately bought out by Chrysler at one point—though, that came after he retired from AMC after 30 or so years working there. But he had a great pension, great retiree benefits such as fully paid medical. The decision he made ultimately turned out to be the best one that he could have made since Allis-Chalmers had gone belly-up in the 1980's, and while the company is still in operation today, it's a shell of its former self. Many former employees lost it all, including my uncle who had worked there for 11 or so years. And the West Allis plant is now nothing more than a strip mall and a few office buildings.

Had he not taken the plunge and risked it all, he might not have been so lucky in his later years.

It's a small example, I know. He didn't start a business or become rich. But it was still a decision that could have changed his life for the better or for the worst. It could have shaped his future in a good way or in a bad way. But it was one that he felt he had to make, to leave Allis-Chalmers and embark down an unfamiliar street irrespective of what might be the result of that. The decision he made could very well have hurt himself, it could have put his very livelihood on the line, and ultimately, it could have hurt the people he loved. But he had to do it. He had to do it then. Because the hands of time were ticking away, and life goes very fast indeed. He told me once, "Sometimes you think to yourself at the time, 'shit, what the hell did I do?' but then look back and think 'I'm glad I did it.'"

My grandfather lived a simple life. He didn't take on a lot of risk overall. I think it served him well. Looking at it, the Allis-Chalmers decision he made wasn't even perhaps risky at all when you take in all of the 93 years he lived. Surely, there were riskier things. I know there were riskier things. But I think the moral of the story I got from his tale, and that I take away from Don Adams' mother's very profound statement is that you have to believe that it will all work out if you go after whatever it is you want to do with the knowing that it's in you to not let it all fall to pieces. It doesn't mean it will be easy. It doesn't mean you'll even succeed. You can do down an unfamiliar street, but do it smart. You don't have to go at it blindfolded and walk into a passing car. Granted, it doesn't mean you'll have any better idea where the street leads to, or where you'll end up, or even if it's ultimately going to be the place you thought you'd get to. But you can at least see what's in front of you along the way, and choose your steps accordingly.

I write this as I feel I am at such a point in my life now. A point at which I can choose. A point which I feel I want to make a choice. Whatever happens, I know it's up to me. Still, I am a damn conservative. At some point I know I've got to get smart and just do it. Make a decision. The clock is ticking. The question is, will I? It's quite a question.

I heard it said once that he who risks nothing, in the end risks it all. I think that's what Don Adams' mother meant by what she said. I think that's what my grandfather's story says to me.


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    • Springboard profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Wisconsin

      Thanks. I definitely appreciate that. :)

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett-Irwin 

      9 years ago from The Great Northwest

      I really like your topic and even your political rants. I think you're a good writer even if you are a bit humble about it.

    • Springboard profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Wisconsin

      Glad you enjoyed it. :)

    • GeneralHowitzer profile image

      Gener Geminiano 

      9 years ago from Land of Salt, Philippines

      Wow great stuff here SB...

    • Springboard profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Wisconsin

      I just need that extra dose of intestinal fortitude. :) I like your way of thinking about making any endeavor more than just a hobby. When it's food at jeopardy getting to the table, or gas getting into the tank, or the electric bill getting paid, it lights a little extra fire in the hindquarters I suppose. I'll have to look that hub up. Thanks for stopping by.

    • GPAGE profile image


      9 years ago from California

      Springboard...I am a "risk taker"...BUT I'm also conservative when it comes to some things (maybe a bit old fashioned is the word ;) seems that a lot of people DO take risks because they HAVE to if the money runs out. This I believe forces people out of their comfort zones. I remember hearing someone say "if you want to do something, you have to make it your job...whatever it is. You can't think of it as a hobby."

      So, if you decide to make the must think of it as "no turning back."

      I have started quite a few businesses...some worked and some did not. BUT I am so happy I did it. Just make you you have a business plan and do the research. If you are really passionate about it, it will happen!

      Funny, I wrote a hub called "Never Saying No" because I wanted to pretend that I could do something without thinking about it! My mind always butts in and I think too much! ha .....Anyway, all in good fun ; Best, GPAGE

    • Springboard profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Wisconsin

      It's a tough thing. It really is. Right now I'm sort of opting for the same thing. Perhaps someone out there can light a fire you know where for us? :)

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      9 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Springboard, It is a hard decision because beside the money there is the work involved in starting a new business. If that is your dream than go for it. If you want to stay in the comfort zone then that is an option. This hub makes you think about your future as I am somewhat in the same position and so far I have opted for comfort. Excellent hub.

    • Springboard profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Wisconsin

      In golf, getting the ball to go forward is my biggest problem. I'm always going to the right...perhaps that's the conservative in me. ;)

    • mwatkins profile image


      9 years ago from Portland, Oregon & Vancouver BC

      Right on - Go forth and conquer! Even baby steps count. It's like golfing - It doesn't matter how bad you play as long as you are moving the ball forward - Great hub! Very motivational and inspirational!

    • breakfastpop profile image


      9 years ago

      I say find your dream and live it!

    • Springboard profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Wisconsin

      Thanks to everyone so far who commented for the encouragement. :) What's that other old saying, life is what you make it?

    • Tom Whitworth profile image

      Tom Whitworth 

      9 years ago from Moundsville, WV


      Once you're at the edge of the cliff with a parachute on it does't matter how you got there or how you plummit by leaping or being pushed just look before you leap then you'll know the situation your destiny is leading you into!!!!!!!!

    • carolina muscle profile image

      carolina muscle 

      9 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      What an enjoyable read!! Thank you!

    • profile image

      Feline Prophet 

      9 years ago

      Sometimes you just have to close your eyes and take a leap of faith - you never know where you will land until you try! :)

    • AEvans profile image


      9 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      You sound just like my husband, but you know what? It is o.k. to be conservative and go for it when the opportunity is there. :)

    • Springboard profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Wisconsin

      I remember my mom saying to me once, "It's a lot of work to keep up properties," when I was thinking of buying more rental property and maybe going at it full time. I responded, "It's a lot of work busting your ass in a job you hate." I've never been afraid of hard work so long as I'm included in the fruits of the success that comes as a result.

      Still, it's taking that plunge. There's safety in a steady paycheck. No doubt about that.

      Thanks for coming in and dropping a comment sheila. I always value your opinion.

    • sheila b. profile image

      sheila b. 

      9 years ago

      Maybe you have to ask yourself how much you're willing to work in a new business. To succeed, you'll have to be willing to really devote yourself to it.

    • Springboard profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Wisconsin

      msorensson, Tom—someone was telling me, "you're standing at the edge of a cliff with a parachute on your back trying to decide whether to jump or not, when all of a sudden a gust of wind comes up from behind and you lose your footing...what do you do?"

      "Fall?" I said.

      "Sure, but you might want to pull the cord."

      I guess it means simply, you walk yourself to the edge with a parachute because you WANT to, but what's going to push you over the edge? You or the wind? If you don't jump or the wind never comes, the only OTHER option is to simply turn around and walk away. Even if you jump, or the wind DOES force you over the side, you've at least thought enough to throw a parachute onto your back. When you pull the cord, all you have to do is hope the parachute deploys...

      Hmm. It made more sense before, lol.

    • Tom Whitworth profile image

      Tom Whitworth 

      9 years ago from Moundsville, WV


      Very profound topic in your hub this is not a rehearsal. We only have once chance to grab that golden ring. Make a careful plan and go for it!!!!!

    • msorensson profile image


      9 years ago

      Allow your inner guidance to help you decide. This is not as easy as it sound :-)

    • Springboard profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Wisconsin

      So true.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      9 years ago from south Florida

      Hi, Springboard. A thought-provoking and soul-searching hub.

      If you do decide to "go for it" whatever that may be, I wish you sccess.

      Some of the saddest words I've ever heard are, "If only I ..."


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