Standing on the edge of a high-dive for the first time is truly one of life’s most exhilarating moments.
Like many, I took my first climb to the top of the high-dive at my local pool when I was just a kid. I think I was about 8 years old. I’d witnessed other kids, including my older brother, yelling “GERONIMO!“, “superMAN!“, or simply screaming at the top of their lungs as they flew through the air before disappearing into the deep, dark blueness of the pool.
From the ground it looks easy. And it doesn’t really look all that high, even when you’re a kid. But when you’re standing on the edge of that aqua-colored fiberglass board as it bounces a little too much for your comfort, you might as well be on top of the Eiffel tower. You become pretty convinced if you step off that board it will be the last thing you ever do. And your death will be painful. Very, very painful.
As I stared down at the water for what seemed like an hour, my brother and friends shouted out words of encouragement.
“JUMP!“, they yelled. “YOU CAN DO IT!”
But the longer I stood there, the more humiliating their “encouragement” became.
“C’MON, DON’T BE SUCH A GIRL!”
FYI: I am not condoning their gender-bashing, just reporting the language of an earlier, much less enlightened time.
As I stood there, paralyzed with fear, I distinctly remember my heart pounding so fiercely that I wondered if a child could have a heart attack. I think I actually wished for one so I wouldn’t have to take the leap of death.
That moment, the one there on the edge of the high dive, is one of life’s truly defining moments. Your fear beckons you back to the safety of the ladder, the ground, and your peanut butter and jelly sandwich. But from your newfound vantage point, you can also envision the thrill of flying, the admiration of your peers, and a rare kind of confidence that only comes from stepping off the edge and living to tell about it.
It’s in that moment you get to choose your adventure: Turn around, tuck your tail between your legs, and go back to what you know, or leap into the unknown, shouting “GERONIMO!” as you fling yourself into the future.
Change is like a high-dive. It presents us with tough — and sometimes terrifying — decisions.
Our natural tendency is to play it safe and maintain the status quo (i.e., stay where we are and never leap). We may want to jump into a new role, a new job, a new relationship, a new city, etc., but we’re afraid things might not work out. And if it doesn’t work out it might be really, really painful.
But, what if you jump? What’s the best that could happen? Hey, if you’re going to tell yourself imaginary stories about the future, why not pick GOOD ones?
Here’s the thing: YOU choose your adventure. The decision is yours and yours alone. Every time.
You also choose your story about change. Just look at how people view something as life-changing as divorce. One person’s story is that it “ruins” their life, another views it as an opportunity to learn, grow, and reinvent themselves. Same situation, very different stories. And incredibly different outcomes.
Here’s another thought to bake your noodle: Did you know research has shown that 90% of things we fear never come to pass? So that plunge to the pool WON’T kill you, your new boss ISN’T a monster, and life WILL go on when you quit that job you hate.
When you stand on the edge of your next metaphorical high-dive, you can decide to return to safety or you can take a leap of faith that things will be even more amazing than you thought.
Which adventure will you choose? I say leap.
By the way, I DID jump off the high dive…eventually. It was so much fun I’ve done it at least a thousand times since.
Need more encouragement to leap? Leave a comment, and let me know what your personal high-dive looks like. I’ll leave a personal note back to you to help you take that first step. It always helps to have at least one person in your corner!