When to Play it Safe and When to Trust Your Desire

Brené Brown recently interviewed Dolly Parton on her Unlocking Us podcast. Dolly said two very different things that have been swimming around in my mind. The first was a comment about the pandemic. She said, “You can’t be too safe, but you can sure be too sorry . . .”

Her second comment came in response to Brené’s question, “What’s the first thing you do when you have to be brave?” Dolly replied, “I always just think my desire to do it is greater than my fear of it. I just pray about it and go.”

It’s interesting to me that such a talented, hardworking, ambitious woman could admit to sometimes playing it safe and other times leaning into her bravery. As an artist, business owner, and devoted family woman, like Dolly, I can relate on so many levels.

We’re often led to believe those who get ahead do so by swallowing their fear and taking great risks. Certainly, Dolly has taken many chances in her life that paid off.  But she has also often embraced her more steady, practical side.

So, how do we know when it’s time to play it safe and when it’s time to swallow our fears and go? I think it comes down to one word she said, “desire.” She does not mean desire as in, “I just want to do this, therefore I will regardless of the outcome.” She means desire as in a calling or a passion. To test whether she’s experiencing a “want” verses a “calling,” she prays. Others would choose to meditate. Others would lean into their intuition. One way or another, we all know when we are meant to do something in service to ourselves or others and when we are not.

In some parts of my life and business I’ve been playing it safe far too long. I’m actively working right now on trusting that my desire is stronger than my fear. In other areas, though, I’m playing it safe because that’s what feels right to me. To do otherwise would raise my stress level, which affects my health and inhibits my ability to think clearly.

There will be those who judge me for both of my leanings. Some may even say so out loud, but that’s okay. It won’t be the first time people have advised me to go against my inner knowing, and it won’t be the last. And there will be times I second-guess my own decisions, because that’s the curse of being human. In the end, though, I trust I’ll look back and be glad I sometimes played it safe and proud of the times I didn’t let fear stand in the way of my truest desires.

If you like this post, please share and credit Teresa Funke and Bursts of Brilliance for a Creative Life blog

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