- On September 20, 2018
Jump, and you will find out how to unfold your wings as you fall.
–Ray Bradbury, author
I don’t really think of myself as a ‘jump off the cliff’ type, more a ‘calculated risk’ taker. I prefer to travel off the beaten path, yet I can’t see myself hacking a new trail through unexplored wilderness.
What about you? Do you tend towards the tried-and-true route? The road less traveled? Blazing a trail where few have dared to go before?
And yet…I spent several years as an Army paratrooper jumping out of airplanes in flight. Calculated risk: extensive training by the “black hats” at the U.S. Army’s Airborne Infantry school at Fort Benning who would have booted me out if I had been a danger to myself or others. That of course ignores the inherent danger of hurling my body into the sky at 800, 1200, 3000 feet relying on the expertise of the unknown chute packer to make sure my ‘wings’ unfolded.
And yet…I stepped off a 20 foot cliff once, plunging into icy rushing water that I hoped would break my fall rather than the rocks lining each side of the ravine. Calculated risk: Others have jumped successfully before me on the unique whitewater rafting trip on the White Salmon River in Washington. My ‘wings’? A life jacket that I had cinched up so tight I could hardly breathe.
And yet…I transitioned out of the Army after a long career and decided to start my own business. I knew nothing about starting or running a business. Calculated risk: I asked a lot of people and considered a lot of diverse advice. Made a few costly mistakes. Twelve years—and three iterations of my business—later, I am still here. My ‘wings’? My amazing clients who find me at just the right time when I need a boost of amazement, inspiration, and energy. I hope I bring the same ‘lift’ to them.
Our brain likes certainty. It is continually assessing whether the situation is safe, or whether it goes on threat alert with a fight-flight-freeze response.
We want to know what we are getting into before we make the leap. We research, plan, analyze. Sometimes we search for certainty for so long the chance passes us by.
Stepping off the edge is hugely risky. If we can even find the courage to take the step.
And yet…in my own life there are so many times I’ve “put my knees in the breeze,” as we say in the airborne paratrooper world. Trusting that my ‘wings would unfold.’
Sometimes those wings have brought me a soft landing.
Sometimes it’s been a bit bumpy.
Often the best landings came when I wound up in a totally different place from where I thought I’d be (landing on a 5-ton truck comes to mind…another story, another time).
Maybe I’m more of a ‘cliff jumper’ than I thought I was…
When have you jumped?
And where did your wings take you?