Are you ready to jump?
Do you feel drawn toward freedom and toward having all of your goals, but also feel unable or unwilling to make that leap?
What has been stopping you? Have you been listening to fear?
I’d like to tell you a story about fear. It’s about “I can’t,” it’s about “I won’t,” and it’s about fear.
I used to be terrified of heights. Very high heights, not-so-high heights, any heights. It was a nightmare for me as a kid to even go near the door leading out to a second or third floor balcony. I once ran away from my family because we were in line for something at an amusement park that was going to take us up in the air (the “horrifying” equivalent of a fully enclosed ski lift on a horizontal cable to get across the park). Ferris wheel? Forget it.
However, I always loved the water. Any water, all water – I would swim anywhere, even in the bathtub all day if my mother let me.
So you can imagine my conflict over the high diving board at the swimming pool near my grandparents’ house.
There were two diving boards at the deep end of the pool. One was a standard diving board and the other towered above the whole pool area, offering a view of the entire lake nearby.
I remember knowing that I just “had to” jump off that high dive. I used every inch of all the rest of the pool. I swam even in the deepest water of the pool – the water where the high dive was. But when I would consider making that long climb up the ladder and jumping, I felt “I can’t.”
Time went by, and I would see people jump off the high dive. Somehow that “I can’t” was breaking down. “Well, maybe I can,” I thought.
With that, I went and stood in line at the high dive. The line stretched up the ladder, giving me plenty of time to face my fear of heights as I slowly climbed the ladder step by step as the line moved along.
Finally, I was on the board itself. I braced myself, holding onto the railings on either side, and took one step at a time down the board. But when I ran out of railing, my feet stopped.
Seconds ticked by. The lifeguard blew her whistle. I looked in her direction and gripped the rail tighter. Everyone waiting on the ladder then climbed back down to clear the way for me to climb back down. I sheepishly climbed back down the ladder, feeling defeated.
I kept swimming and jumping from the low dive. But it wasn’t finished between me and the high dive. Time went by.
One day I was ready again. I made the slow climb up the ladder in line. I stepped out onto the board, again bracing myself with the rails. This time. when the railing ended I took a deep breath and to my surprise my feet took one step and another and another down the diving board. At the end of the board, I took another breath and looked down at the dark blue water. I knew that water. Although it was deeper than the rest of the pool, I knew I could swim in it – I had done it many times. So if the water was fine, what was stopping me from taking the next step off the board? In a word, fear.
My toes were at the end of the diving board. Seconds ticked by. I heard the lifeguard’s whistle. This time I looked at her at shook my head. “Nope, not today.” She gave the signal – everyone back down the ladder. I made my way back to the ladder feeling disappointed, confused, and frustrated – and climbed down the ladder to the pool deck.
Do you see what was really stopping me? That fear was the anchor for a great big “I won’t.”
Finally one summer day dawned that was not going to end with a victory for fear.
Again, I waited in line up the ladder. Again, I held tight to the railing as I stepped out on to the diving board. Again, I walked out to the end of the board. And this time I jumped.
My hair flew up as I dropped down toward the water, which welcomed and surrounded me as I plunged into it.
Once I swam to the edge of the pool, I scurried out and nearly ran to the line for the high dive. I jumped from that high dive many, many times.
I learned an important lesson that summer (whether I realized it at the time or not) about “I can’t,” “I won’t,” and fear. All three are not real. I am bigger than all three. But all three will get in the way of my freedom if I let them.
You see, that’s what the high dive was all about. I didn’t like that I didn’t feel free to do it. But the fear was in the way. The struggle was going to continue until I made a decision.
We all have that same decision in every moment. It can either be a victory for freedom or a victory for garbage. I invite you to make a decision to release your fear and feel the joy of a victory for freedom.
p.s. – a great way to have a victory fro freedom is to join us at the upcoming Final Step Retreat – see you there!