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Make the Leap of Faith

Person making a leap of faith

I read a great little book the other day titled “How to be an Imperfectionist”, by Stephen Guise. Among its themes is the concept that perfectionists never really achieve anything because they are always waiting for circumstances to be exactly right, before acting. And as anyone who’s ever attempted anything will tell you, circumstances are never perfect.

In Guise’s view (or in my interpretation of his view), you’re better off just attempting something and learning as you go, because that is the nature of growth and development. It’s a view Sir Richard Branson echoes in his various books too – the title Screw it, Let’s Do it probably gives that attitude away…

Cartoon with a dog refusing to jump over a stream

Yet we all know a couple of people who won’t take that first step for fear. Fear of failing it might seem. Maybe it’s a fear of succeeding? As I mention in one of my earlier articles, sometimes you just have to say yes and take action. But saying yes sometimes comes with an odd bedfellow – success – which often turns into a cycle of ‘yes’ – ‘success’ – rinse, repeat.

The Leadership Team at my company recently went on a team building exercise that involved, among other things, having a crack at the trapeze, and those weird and wonderful velvet ribbons called tissue (but with a fancy French accent) made famous by Cirque du Soleil and the artist Pink.

At 90 odd kilograms, I’m not exactly the paragon of grace and flexibility, and combined with a paralysing fear of heights, this was squarely outside my comfort zone. I’ll shift heavy objects all day, but this being suspended in mid-air stuff – terrifying.

The instructor, however, convinced us to twirl ourselves round this ribbon by our hips and then nonchalantly says “now I want you to let go and you will do a forward roll and land on your feet”. It was all going well until the “let go” bit…

Still, nothing ventured, nothing gained. And interestingly, just about everyone in the group had the same pale look of trepidation that I am sure I had – the sudden dryness of my throat and butterflies in the belly doing nothing to ease my concerns.

In my head, the excuses were coming thick and fast – “I’ve got bad knees so I can’t do this”, “I need to make a phone call”, “I have to go to the bathroom” etc. You get the picture. But, happily, I took a deep breath (it could have been 8) and let go.

And it was exhilarating.

To the point that I wanted to do it again. And again.

And therein, maybe, lies the trick. Sometimes it’s not about all the reasons why it can’t work out. Sometimes it’s just about surrendering to the moment, trusting the process (and yourself) and just doing it. The same, in my view, definitely applies professionally.

Make the jump from what we are to what we want to be

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