My daughter and I were on vacation in Florida recently and the weather was colder than expected. So we decided to seek out an adventure and landed on Zip Lining. My daughter had been before but I had not yet tried the sport. I did not give it much thought and signed us up for the next day.
We arrived early to our destination which gave me ample time to get a bit nervous about flying through the air at 45 feet above ground with nothing but a plastic helmet to save me from certain death. I proceeded to ask several questions about safety and how this would work. I was assured by the tour guides that what we were about to do was completely safe. They assured me there was little to no opportunity for me to fall to ground while on this tour. This coming from a couple of young men who make a living flying across tree tops!
I realized that I was in too deep to chicken out so I made up my mind to give it a go. There was something I could learn from the whole experience. I just was not sure what that would be.
The very first activity included climbing a rope ladder one story high – no problem I could do that. Once we arrived at the first platform, I looked down and my knees began to shake. Uh Oh. The next climb was a rock wall which took us to the second story. I was told the rock wall was an easy climb and to my surprise it was not bad once I stopped considering falling backwards to my death. I arrived at the top platform and looked down, whoa, my stomach turned a little. Did I mention I have a fear of heights?
I could not get over what my fear center was telling me even though I was harnessed in and double hooked to a very heavy cable that would not allow me to drop more than 28″ in total. It was not registering that I could not fall to the ground with all of the safety precautions in place. Fear was filling my head full of lies, the system would fail, a cable could break or come loose, the harness could tear, the hooks could come loose, etc. Then it hit me, this was a mind game and I was going to win. I had been in this place before. Fear was not going to steal the joy of this experience.
As we lined up to take our first jump off the platform I would not allow myself to focus on anything but the task at hand. The guide took my harness clips and attached me to the cables, he then told me to take a run off the platform and ball up so I would not get stuck in the middle of the run – stuck?! – that was something I had not considered. I stood there, looking ahead knowing that it could be thrilling but thinking it could also be deadly, mind game, mind game. Then I asked God, “what do you want me to learn from this experience?”
The guide said three times, “you can jump now, you can jump now, you can jump now,” I could not get my feet to move even though my mind was telling me to jump! Suddenly I was flying through the air, after a perfectly timed shove from the guide, squealing with excitement, enjoying the ride with the wind in my face. Seconds later I was being guided onto the platform and it was over way too soon. I wanted more! The thrill and excitement of letting go and allowing myself to enjoy the feeling of freedom was spurring me on.
I was filled with adrenaline full of a new energy. It felt good to let go of worry and just go for it. Was my fear still there? Yes. Was the experience worth the risk? Yes. Then it hit me – SOMETIMES WE JUST HAVE TO JUMP. This is what God wanted me to know.
We often reach points in our lives when we know it is time for a change and everything in our being is telling us what we need to do, yet our fear center is warning us against certain failure and death. It is at this very moment we have to make a decision as to who we will be. Fear can be the one thing that will keep us from our destiny or it can be the one thing that spurs us on. When we have an important change to make or are facing uncertainty in our lives we can choose to be courageous in the face of fear or we can allow fear to hold us back, stripping us of living life to the fullest.
My dad recently told me that as he has gotten older, he thinks a lot about the opportunities in life he passed up due to fear. He thinks about how life could have been so different if he had the courage to take certain risks and realize his dreams. Dad said when you get older, the regrets are what you think about, the opportunities passed up, and the possibilities of what could have been. He warned against allowing fear to limit my life.
I am an entrepreneur who left a great job to live a dream. People often ask me, how I had the courage to do what I have done. They see a person who appears to be fearless and full of gumption. But the truth is, I was scared then, and still get scared when I am taking a new risk. If I allow myself the luxury, I will over think things, take too long to JUMP, and risk losing opportunities. I know this about myself so a long time ago I decided who I wanted to be and discovered that I had a choice in my future.
I knew that if I did not live the dream to be an entrepreneur I would forever wonder what could have been. I pictured my life on my dying day and realized what really mattered to me. I made up my mind to choose courage over fear. I decided to live my life to fullest, risk failing, risk looking stupid, and risk financial ruin. I knew for me all that really mattered was living a life that was authentic and to be an example of courage not fear for my kids. So on that zip line I rediscovered what I already knew –SOMETIMES YOU JUST HAVE TO JUMP!