What a 10-Year-Old Taught Me About Overcoming Fear
We finally parked and started down the muddy trail. The first few hundred yards were mostly downhill which made it difficult to stay upright as my feet were slipping and sliding every which way. I was hanging on to the exposed roots from trees for stabilization and focusing on making sure everyone was doing ok. We saw a few hikers on their way back up the hill. As I made eye contact with one of them, I asked if it was worth all this suffering. “Oh yeah,” he exclaimed, “you are almost there; it will be amazing!” Hmmm, I thought, a word to the wise, don’t hype up the experience someone is about to have; you’ll create an unreasonable expectation and it will lead to disappointment. Feeling a bit annoyed yet still hopeful, we continued.
We eventually arrived at our destination. Our final climb was across the large area of lava rocks. As we stood and looked down, we finally saw what we’d been looking for. The fierce and powerful ocean waves smashing into the rocks beneath us and slowly losing its anger, with water then gently flowing between rocks into a cove creating a large pool of crystal clear, calm perfection. They named this spot “Queen’s Bath” and it met the hype and every ounce of my expectation….I thought to myself, this is what family vacationing is all about…exploration, adventure and finally…relaxation.
We climbed down and took full advantage of this body of water with our snorkeling gear and just enjoyed the beauty as we sat back and watched everyone around us do the same. Several people were jumping into the water from a ledge about 15 feet above the natural pool where we were swimming. We couldn’t help notice this little girl on the ledge, as well, trying to muster the courage to make the jump. She was looking down at us, and we were close enough to see the fear in her eyes. Her body language also made it obvious, and she spoke the words that would continue to paralyze her current state of being… “I can’t!”
Her father stood right next to her, holding her, then letting his hands go, he said, “you can do this honey…jump!” She said “no!”even more terrified, and he would continue to encourage her. She would then stand there in silence, studying the water beneath her…one…two…three!!! …then, nothing. Just fear. She was frozen, unable to make the decision, unable to conquer the situation she got herself into. This went on for what seemed like forever. People below were starting to not pay attention anymore and went about their own business…we pretty much gave up on her too. No more words of encouragement, yelling, counting down, even simple reassurance of her safety would rid her of her fear. She had seen others do it all day but she was still paralyzed. What would it take to get rid of her fear?
My wife of much wisdom, watching this event unfold with me said, “you do know that as entertaining as this is, it’s gonna get a bit annoying once she jumps right?” Why? I asked. “Because, once she jumps, she’s going to realize it’s not that scary…then guess what she’s going to do the rest of the day? She’s going to run and climb over to the ledge, and jump again, then you know what she’s going to do after that? Run and climb to the ledge, and jump again, and again and again. My wife is so smart, because that’s EXACTLY what happened. Finally after her initial jump, for the next 1/2 hour she must have jumped into the Queen’s Bath while screaming with glee 20+ times over. Oh my.
The crazy thing is that no matter what was said, yelled, whispered and/or encouraged, the fear NEVER left her. The fear only left when she jumped. The fear left when she finally took action. When she leaped into the air, then free-falling 15 feet, then splashing into the water, then as she lifted her head out of the water…something crazy happened….everything changed. She overcame her fear. I saw it happen right before my eyes. I saw someone that conquered their own fear and took a blind leap. I saw someone, a 10-year-old, look into the eyes of her own fear, laughed and shout out to the world with glee..”Wheeeeeeeee!!!” Over and over again.
I am reminded of my own fear and my transformation as I continue to move forward in my entrepreneurial journey. I am often stopped in my own tracks, paralyzed in fear of where my next decision will take me. Then I will be reminded of what a 10-year-old taught me about fear. Fear will remain until I take action. Fear will remain until I leap into the air. Fear will remain until I free-fall into the body of water and come out refreshed, alive and fearless, laughing and shouting out to the world with glee…”Wheeeeeeeee!!!” What is your current fear? Are you ready to jump?