I looked down, over the edge of the rock, and promptly stepped back. I was told on the hike into Phelps Lake that the jump was around 30 feet. It looked a whole lot higher to me. I don’t particularly care for heights — or falling, for that matter.
Are you going to jump?
It was a fair question. There was only one logical answer. “I think I have to jump.”
I was on the final day of my second annual reunion retreat in Jackson Hole. We had hiked into Grand Teton National Park, around Phelps Lake and to the “jumping rock.” Jackson Hole is a perfect setting for a myriad of personal “tests,” and the jump was intended to be a bit symbolic. It was an opportunity for me to feel a little fear about something and do it anyway.
Decisions made from a place of fear don’t always serve our long-term interests. Fear can protect us from real danger, but it can also produce limiting beliefs, thoughts, feelings and behaviors that inhibit our potential, relationships and fulfillment. Fear is a powerful force. I’ve made plenty of decisions from a place of fear.
Procrastinating and perpetually putting off an important decision is perhaps the most common fear-induced decision of all. Getting unstuck requires courage. Courage isn’t the absence of fear. It’s the quality of mind that enables one to face danger with confidence, resolution and firm control of oneself.
The stories we invent from a place of fear aren’t the truth. The truth is that the future hasn’t happened. The decisions we make and the actions we take create the future. So what is one decision you can make right now that will move you toward the future you desire? Go do that! Bold, decisive, intentional action is the antidote to fear.
Taking the Leap of Faith
I envision myself as an entrepreneur but I am afraid of the risk. I do have a stable job with excellent benefits. May I have your expert advice whether I should opt for the change in career path and how to overcome the fear of failure for choosing my passion over stability?
I was just asked this question by a connection on LinkedIn. It’s a question I get asked frequently. It’s a question that actually makes me a bit uncomfortable, and the only answer I routinely provide without any additional context is this:
Not everyone should start a business, and passion, while admirable, often doesn’t translate very well into a sustainable business model. It’s far better to focus on solving a real problem or deploying your unique talent against a legitimate opportunity in the marketplace, and I’d recommend testing the “idea” before you quit your job!
I also hope the perspective and resources I’ve shared in previous posts on how to vision a different future and how to build a business and life you love prove helpful.
How can you find the courage to make the leap?
Embracing the ‘Little Experiment’
I find it’s helpful to make small but very specific decisions that move me outside of my comfort zone consistently. Walking across fire, rock jumping and learning how to surf are exercises in cultivating the ability to be comfortable being uncomfortable. Translate those lessons into your life, and big, breakthrough moments become possible!
You do it by conducting little experiments, knowing that avoiding failure is not the goal. In fact, you are going to make mistakes. The goal is to recover from mistakes quickly and accelerate your learning curve in the process.
Knowing it’s just a “little experiment” will help you confront fear, take action and quickly course correct as you collect feedback. The best entrepreneurs I know boldly venture into the unknown, anticipating adversity and they have the confidence and resilience to adapt accordingly.
I also find it helpful to assess the downside. What’s the worst-case scenario? What is the probability of that outcome? If that scenario plays out, what would be required to return to my previous situation?
This assessment might help you more easily quiet that fear and establish perspective around what is both plausible and possible.
If you are standing on the edge of what might feel like the proverbial “career cliff,” I also think it’s important to make the commitment to decide. Certainly, you should conduct your due diligence. Establish an action plan. Make an informed choice. But set a date to decide.
Find Your Tribe
You don’t have to do this alone. In fact, you shouldn’t.
If you decide to jump, it helps to have the support of other people who have jumped before you. Not everyone in your life will likely applaud your leap of faith, and you are going to have to confront their fear of failure, as well as your own, as you go down this new path. It’s very normal to get resistance from people who care about you and even from people you love. You’ll have to counter that with other voices, most importantly your own. Listen to your instincts and look for ways to find support, counsel, mentorship and guidance. Reach out. Connect. Find your tribe!
And don’t let the fear of what other people think hold you back — whether you’re about to launch a new business or jump off of a rock.
I was willing to jump when fear of “same” was more powerful than the fear of “change.” I don’t regret those decisions for a second! I knew I would regret not trying a whole lot more than I would taking my shot and failing forward.
Are you going to jump?
For little more perspective on my personal journey and path to business success, you can listen to this Wealthy Speaker podcast conversation with my coach, Jane Atkinson.
Ryan Estis is a Keynote Speaker & Management Consultant blogging about business performance.