I just had a phone visit with my dear 80-year-old Aunt Bonnie. Several times during the call she shared with me what she and Uncle Dick are ‘comfortable’ or ‘uncomfortable’ doing or places they are ‘comfortable’ or ‘uncomfortable’ going. Covid-19 has certainly multiplied the number of times we in America are using those words. As parents or educators, we are even considering those words relative to the opening of school for our children.

Just minutes after our phone call, I accidentally came upon this quote by Anais Nin:

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

So, what is it? Are we to seek comfort or be open to risk? This question led me to pull out a copy of our Top 20 Teens book and read the chapter on ‘Growing through Risk’. (This chapter is available here.)

Human development requires two things: security and challenge. Security is provided inside the Comfort Zone and challenge is provided outside. As human beings we need both security and challenge. One without the other would limit our growth.

Tom’s grandson Sam offers us an example of balancing risk and security. Click on the video and watch Sam embrace the risk of walking while experiencing the security of his mother.


Grace Murray Hopper has said, “A ship in port is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.

Like ships, we and our students need a safe harbor, but we also need to head out into the wide-open ocean.

Take a moment to reflect on (1) ‘a safe harbor’ comfort zone for you and (2) a healthy risk you need to take for your growth and development.

Best wishes from our Top 20 team…Willow Sweeney, Kevin Brennan, and Tom Cody…who are my security blanket and my challengers.

Paul Bernabei
Top 20 Training