Over the weekend, I went to the park district aquatics center with my soon to be husband and his adorable six year old daughter. This was the first time we had been to the pool when the outdoor area was open and little E was excited to spy the diving boards outside. The outdoor pool has two low-dives and one big-scary-15-foot-high-dive.
E was eager to make her first low-dive jump, so my guy and I proceeded to show her how it is done. It’s been about 10 years since I have jumped off a diving board, so the first jump was a bit intimidating. Working up my nerve, I walked down the springy plank trying to look graceful and calm. I masked my trepidation and jumped. Little E, who hasn’t yet learned to swim, was next and we waited close by as she made her first brave plunge. That girl has no fear, I thought to myself. She was having a blast and was running circles to get as many jumps in as possible.
Then came the elephant in the room – the high dive. E wanted to see “daddy and kimchi” jump off. Oh my heavens. Fear set in. My darling guy told me that he would jump if I did and the pressure was on. Thanks, Dear.
After Daryl’s bold jump I clenched the side of the railing and tried not to fall as I shook my way up the ladder. I got to the top and the world started to go dizzy, so I clenched the railing, exclaimed “Na Uh” and turned around. I let the 10 year old behind me go. But my audience was relentless and I couldn’t disappoint. After two more attempts I worked up my nerve and decided that the best path of action was to push forward and not think about it. I jumped! Feet first, free-falling, stomach churning and splash! That was actually really fun!
After reveling in our bravery for a couple of minutes Daryl and I turned around to see little E, swallowed in her yellow life-vest, making her way up the high-dive! No warning, no hoopla, just a calm resolute bravery. Keep in mind, this girl doesn’t even know how to swim. We looked up in awe, ready to jump in and rescue at a seconds notice, and watched nervously and intently.
The girl didn’t even hesitate! She just climbed up and ran off like an old pro. We were expecting her to pop up with fear in her eyes, but instead she surfaced with the most ecstatic grin you have ever seen and two big thumbs up. She was proud of herself and amidst our shock, we were extremely proud of her too.
I learned a few things about life and business that day from our little six year old:
- Everyone has moments in their life when the next step isn’t a baby-step on soft ground but rather a free-fall plunge into the unknown. Fear and anticipation can get the best of us and keep us from taking that leap of faith. But the risk we take by hanging on to our fears is the greatest of all. If we don’t jump, we will never have the chance to experience the amazing thrill of accomplishment and success. Sure, we risk failure and maybe even getting hurt, but staying in the same place is guaranteed to get us nowhere.
- It’s ok to have a safety net, but there is a difference between being prepared and letting preparation stand in your way. It’s hard to know where to draw the line. When I am feeling stuck in the planning stages, sometimes I use preparation as an excuse for moving forward. When I recognize this, it helps me to spend a small amount of time putting together a back-up plan in order to minimize that fear of failure. But I try not to hang-out in that stage for too long. When I’m no longer moving forward, I know it’s time to take the plunge.
- It helps to have an audience. Sometimes the fear of letting other people down offers much more motivation than letting one’s self down. Telling others of my big plans and giving them a time frame can often push me forward and keep me accountable. Plus, when I finally do take the plunge, the enthusiasm and cheers of those who have seen me through my journey to my accomplishments is a nice bonus!
To sum it up:
When fear has taken hold and it’s hard to move forward, throw on a life-vest, move one foot in front of the other, and don’t look down!
What practices do you use to overcome your fear?
Is there anything in your life or business with which you are struggling to take the next leap forward?