August 14, 2020

Risk

Recently, I jumped off of a four-story cliff… and lived to tell the story.

It has been a dream of mine since I was in my 20’s to cliff jump into a body of water. On a recent trip, I finally had the opportunity. It was terrifying and exhilarating, and I was unprepared even after all these years of dreaming about it. Most importantly, I did it. And it taught me a little something about risk.

First, I want to walk you through the experience. I was invited on a fishing trip to Montana.  Another first. The trip was fun and successful, I caught some fish, hung out with some people I don’t see often, and had a great time. In some ways, the environment provided a good context to take a risk – it was new, different, on the edge of my “normal.” All too often, our routine of comfortability does not put us in a position to risk and go for that dream we have had.

We had to take a boat out to the location of the jump. But the boat could only get us so close to the spot. We had to jump out of the boat and swim the last 40 feet to get to a cliff, then climb another 40 feet. After years of wanting to do this, you would think I would have been prepared, but I did not have my swim trunks. Despite being ill-prepared, I knew I had to take advantage of the moment in front of me. So, I swam in jeans and hiked in jeans. But the physical limitations were nothing compared to the mental blocks that awaited me.

The view from up there was incomparable. Simultaneously I took in the beauty of the moment and dealt with the scariest moment of the entire event. Standing at the literal edge of the cliff and waiting to jump was truly terrifying.  Every possible disastrous outcome ran through my mind.

What if I don’t jump straight and snap my neck on the impact with the water?

What if I hit a rock at the bottom?

What if can’t come back up from the water?

Then this totally irrational adventure of jumping off of a cliff became completely rational in one minute. The experience transformed as I stopped, breathed, and slowed down my thinking.  As I worked it through rationally, I knew I was ready, I was confident I could jump straight, swim, and the event would be fun…

…then I jumped.

And it happened so fast, the best part was only about two seconds long.  The free fall was a rush that was worth all of the physical and mental exertion. Then my swimming instincts took over.

in this time, we should be taking risks.  We are literally standing in a moment of the world being transformed. Right before our eyes, education is rethinking its way of teaching students, the healthcare industry is in crisis needing reshaping, race and culture are brought to the forefront and needing leadership, business models are rapidly evolving, and sports are operating in new ways for the first time.

What is your cliff to jump?

What dream have you had that you cannot put off any longer?

Prepared or not, what is the thing you need to try?

I assure you, the barriers are only in your head.  Slow down, push the idea forward…

Then jump.

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