I grew up going to summer camps around the South and was always obsessed with the ropes course challenges. I was always game to to try new ones because I had a healthy level of trust in the ropes and harnesses due to some early training from both my Mother and Uncle who at one point in their life we basically professional camp counselors. (On-Belay!)
Most of the rope course challenges were going from one tree or structure to another, there was an end in sight and all you had to do was keep putting one foot in front of the other and you’d breathe a sigh of relief on the other side. But then there was this other one that was a one way ticket to no where that felt safe and everything fiber of doubt in you welling up in your throat and telling you to stop. The trapeze jump still makes me sweat.
For those that were never exposed to this challenge, it goes like this:
- climb tall object (tree or telephone pole)
- some how find yourself on a platform smaller than your shoes on top of said tall object.
- look straight out ahead of you and see swinging trapeze
- look again in disbelief at how far away that trapeze is from you
- think back to how close that trapeze looked to the platform from the ground
- accuse someone of moving the trapeze while you ascended the tall object
- stand terrified knowing that there is no way to get off this platform except to jump
Now, here is where things get interesting. Those that have come to grips with their fate begin some kind of mental gymnastics to prep themselves for jumping what feels like the grand canyon’s width out to try and grab that trapeze.
Then there are those that find themselves in a brand new state of panic and terror. I won’t focus on these folks for too long, but they aren’t allowed to stay up there too long because the person holding the other end of the rope eventually forces them off with a tug and that is not a pretty sight.
But for those that are able to make the decision to jump on their own, there are another two groups that emerge. And you never know which one someone is going to fall into until their feet have left the platform. There are those that throw themselves at that trapeze as if their entire family’s reputation depends on them facing down this demon and there are those that mid jump come to decide they wish they’d stayed on the platform and they go limp.
And those last two are the two that I’ve spent a lot of time this week thinking about. Those are the toughest two to distinguish until the they jump. They both got themselves in position to make the attempt. They both went into the jump with some kind of determination and hutzpah. But at the moment of truth, one rose to the occasion and put in the effort required to have a chance at success and one wilted because the real moment of complete surrender was more than they could go through with.
And it all comes down to a moment in mid-action where the belief in achieving the goal is the only thing that separates those that fly from those that flail. One moment where all of the work and effort and talk that led them that far is just a prerequisite for a chance at glory or an awkward fall back to earth.
Its in those moments that your commitment to what your goal is comes face to face with a chasm of fear and doubt and you either hold true or you waiver.
I know a lot of people still standing on the ledge they’ve fought to scale and fighting their inner demons and doubts running through all the reasons why they should jump and take the thing that they’ve been obsessing about for as long as they can remember.
I also know two entrepreneurs right now that didn't waiver and have thrown themselves head long off the platforms they’ve spent years and years climbing to get to knowing that it is the only way they have the chance of grasping the goal they’ve fixated on since the first step a long long time ago back on the ground. They’re flying through the air and have the chance to take hold of that trapeze that until this very moment has looked extremely far away. They’ve taken their lip service to the idea of swinging at that great heights and given themselves the best chance possible to actually do it.
But you’ll notice one thing, it is not those that actually catch the trapeze that I am fixated on. Sure, it is an amazing experience and something that looks great and will elicit a roar from the watching crowd below. But it is the ones who make the true effort and risk it all in their quest to hold on long enough to swing in victory that should be praised and cheered. Win or lose, they have nothing to regret in their attempts and have gained the confidence to tackle the climb again.
So if you're gonna jump, jump with everything you have. Jump and fly through the air and give yourself the chance to claim victory and lay hold of that dream you’ve been climbing towards.