As a child, I vividly remember taking swimming lessons at our local community pool. Swimming in the pool was fine, but I was deathly afraid of the diving board–especially the high dive. I’ll never forget the day our instructor said it was time to do the high dive. I immediately got at the back of the line, where I watched all of my classmates climb the stairs and jump off the high dive.
When my turn came, I slowly climbed the stairs clinging to the side-bars for safety. I gingerly inched my way to the edge of the diving board and looked down to see my swimming teacher treading water, waiting to help me.
“Just jump in!” he called up to me. Frozen with fear, I just stood there, staring at the drain at the bottom of the pool. My class mates were yelling, “Just do it, it’s easy!” Still I stood there, unable to muster up the courage to jump. After what seemed like hours, but was probably not more than 4-5 minutes, I turned around and climbed down the stairs.
Later, when I finally learned how to jump, and even dive, off the high dive, I realized that I had nothing to fear. In fact, I was missing out on one of the most enjoyable, thrilling parts of playing at the pool.
Fear is a thief that robs us of enjoyable experiences and future success. Can you think of something that would improve your life right now, but you don’t do it because of fear? I think we all can. What are we afraid of? Rejection, loss, embarrassment, change, failure. Assuming that what we fear is actually good for us, when fear immobilizes us, we don’t realize that we are actually guaranteeing the very things that we are trying to avoid: rejection, loss, embarrassment, and failure. Wayne Gretzky put it succinctly when he said, “You’ll always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
The story is told about a horseman in Arabia riding across the desert at night. As he traveled through a dried-up riverbed, a voice out of the darkness commanded him to halt and dismount, which he did. Then, the voice told him to fill his pockets with the pebbles at this feet, which he did. As he rode out through the darkness, the voice said to him, “at sunrise you will be both sad and glad.” At sunrise he looked in his pockets and found that the pebbles he had picked up were diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and sapphires. He was very glad and very sad. He was glad that he had taken as many as he had, and he was sad that he had not taken a lot more.
As we travel the road of life, we are surrounded by jewels of opportunity, precious relationships, and valuable experiences. Don’t be afraid to stoop and pick them up. At the end of life, each of us will be both sad and glad. Glad that we took hold of as many opportunities, savored as many experiences, and nurtured as many relationships as we did–and sad that we didn’t do a lot more.
Success Tip: Take a lesson from my swimming instructor and “Just jump in!” Do the thing you fear. Stop standing at the sidelines of life. Jump in with both feet. You’ll be glad you did.