I’ve always said — mostly jokingly but also with some seriousness — that I prefer life to be always smooooooth sailing.

No waves rocking the boat.

No heavy winds whipping the sails.

There’s still some truth to that, but I also know that too much smooth sailing can get kinda boring.

I’m not sure this is making any sense, but the point is, playing it safe and always staying inside your comfort zone is OK, but sometimes you just gotta step outside the zone.

Fear of being uncomfortable holds us back. Keeps us from becoming the best we can be. Keeps goals out of reach. Keeps dreams from becoming reality. Some say keeps us from achieving our destiny; from becoming the person we were born to be.

When I was a kid, I was pretty fearless most of the time, when it came to taking on new challenges. Most kids are, I suppose. As I got older, that changed. As my world got a little bigger, so did my fear, I guess. I learned how to quit when things got hard. Throughout my 20s, I kind of stumbled through life in a never-ending cloud of various … things.

The only thing learning to quit did for me was give me lots of regrets.

Not a damn thing positive came out of it.

Well, except I learned that quitting sucks.

One thing I did accomplish in my 20s was earning a college degree. I went to college full-time for the first time when I was 27.

I’ll never forget my first day in a Journalism 101 course. The smiling lady professor walked in and introduced herself, talked a little about this and that, and then gave us our first assignment. She said we were to go out across campus, interview three people about their experiences with registration for classes, then come back and write a new story.

Registering for classes back then was not done on a computer. You stood in long lines at different buildings, and it was a tremendous pain in the ass.

When this professor finished giving us our assignment, the room went silent. People were kind of looking around, wondering what to do. I was the old man in the group and most of these kids I was in there with had worked for their high school newspaper and stuff like that, but I was a complete newbie to journalism. I liked to write, but I had zero experience. I don’t know what was going through everyone else’s mind, but I was thinking, “What? Go out there and interview some people? On the first day of class? You gotta be kidding!”

Looking back, I think the point of the assignment was not actually writing the story, but to see what we were made of.

After a little initial panic, I thought, “Well, OK, do you want to do this journalism thing or not?”

So I grabbed my notebook and pencil, got up, went out and interviewed three people, came back and wrote a story.

That lesson served me well over the years.

Do you want to do it or not?

Whatever it is.

Only you can make the decision.

Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.

You can do it.

Why not today?

My first gold medal in pole vault.