This post is inspired by a little story that happened to me years ago.
I was about 15 years old, still sweet and innocent. *wink* I lived in a smallish university town called Stellenbosch , and in the summer regularly went to the university swimming pool with my friends, just to hang out, swim, spend the day there and have fun.
The pool was olympic-sized, and had three different level diving-boards. 1M, 3M and the highest being 5M.I must say, it’s incredibly fun jumping off those boards, and while you may think 5 metres doesn’t sound high, wait until you get up there and stand on the edge and look down. It may make your stomach do a little turn.
For a couple years I never had the courage to do a dive off the 5M board, the 3M dive was a little scary but very do-able, and I always watched in awe and envy as other people did somersaults, backflips and dives off the 5M board. It seemed so effortless and looked like so much fun and I really wanted to do it but was simply too scared.
I kept on wondering “WHAT IF”.
What if I landed flat on my back or stomach?
What if I broke my neck?
What if I got a concussion from hitting the water head first?
While it was still great fun just jumping off the top board, and only diving off the two lower ones, it never quite felt like I was completely satisfied with what I had achieved, and I knew that I could do more.
One day, a beautiful sunny summer’s day in South Africa, which is often far over 30 degrees C, I was at the pool again with my friend and we were having loads of fun. I was feeling really brave and just decided that I was going to do it, I was going to dive off the top board. I was going to conquer my fear.
As I made my way to the top board, I was feeling half confident and half doubting. Was I crazy to be doing this? What if something happens? There we go again, the what if’s started creeping in. My courage level started to drop, and I made my way over to the edge of the diving board and looked down. The water seemed very far down, insanely far down. After about a minute of contemplating how far below the water seemed to be, I decided not to do it. In fact, the board all of a sudden seemed so high that I was afraid to even jump off it, and I made my way back down via the stairs.
For the next hour, I was actually angry at myself for chickening out.I wasn’t impressed at all, I really wanted to go home having done this, whatever happens. So after a while, I actually got really angry with myself and decided to do this, right now. I climbed up to the top board, didn’t walk to the edge to look down. I just took a deep breath, ran from as far back as I could and leaped off the board head first towards the water, hands stretched out in front of me to break the water.
Surprisingly…it went perfect. Straight into the water, prefect angle, no stinging from hitting the water, no headache, no nothing. Just an amazing feeling of having conquered this obstacle, this massive limit that I had created for myself. It felt really really good.
Now that the fear was removed, I had increased my boundaries, and I felt that I can go another couple steps forward. I find that this principle relates to ANYTHING you want to do but are scared to do. We stand on the edge of the diving board, looking down at all the potential problems, coming up with all sorts of excuses and fears, to put us off from taking the plunge.
If there is anything you have been wanting to do for a long time, but have been standing on the edge of that diving board, and each time you get up and come up with enough courage to make the decision, but the chicken out right before you jump, maybe it’s time for once and for all to decide to do it. Before you take the plunge, make a list of worst case scenarios, and make a list of solutions what you can do if those worst case scenarios present themselves.
(I wrote about it in a post The timing is never right). Only this time, don’t look down, just take a run-up and dive head-first into the water. Don’t think about the potential problems and what can go wrong. Deal with those things one at a time,you have an arsenal of counter measures.
You will find more often than not you are capable of conquering your fear, and the feeling of achievement and freedom from your limitations is truly amazing. Once you overcome that mental obstacle and self-limiting belief, you will find a whole new world of possibilities and opportunities open up to you.
Have an amazing weekend!
Have a Rockin’ day