To Jump or To Be Pushed
The first time I bungee jumped (and definitely the last time), the lift operator and I stood 50 meters above a Thai river. He quickly counted down “1-2-3, jump!” After which case I froze and then asked to compose myself for a few more seconds before taking my own running leap. With my legs bent and arms flailing I leapt off the platform (you’re actually supposed to dive head first like a swimmer, because you’re attached by the feet). I felt like the cartoon character Wile E. Coyote for a split second in the air, my body suspended in air grasping for footing that wasn’t there, and then I fell. It was exhilarating!
Not quite 20 years later, I was at the proverbial cliff again, this time about my job (for a company I co-founded), that was not as fulfilling as it once was. My focus and performance slid and there I was, on the “cliff of transitions;” facing the decision to jump or to be pushed. In this case, I got a big nudge and down I fell.
Being pushed feels terrible though. It is forced and untimely. It feels rushed and violating. Yet, it happens all the time. It happens when people are fired, forced-out, asked to resign, succumb to “circumstances beyond one’s control.” It feels bad because it’s not on your terms. Or it is wimpy like hoping that someone else breaks-up or tells you the time is up in a bad relationship because you were too cowardly to do it yourself.
The subtle realization is that we put ourselves on that cliff. Sometimes it is purposefully to take the leap into the unknown and confront new challenges. And sometimes our passivity or lack of forward actions act to push us further and further outside the safe zone until the cliff looms large and threatens instability. So consciously or subconsciously we put ourselves on the cliff.
Then there’s jumping! The self chosen path of newness and adventure. A voluntary choice to not let things linger and get awkward. A move of definitive, purposeful action. An anti-clinging and bold endeavor.
Our proverbial cliffs need not be a career change or a relationship, but rather a personal perspective that embodies a willful and action based life. As George Bernard Shaw said, “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” We have the power every moment to choose who we want to be, rather than being forced into concepts of who we are that are old and tired. Thinking of oneself as a “procrastinator”, for example, is a label that keeps one trapped into old and tired thinking; perhaps being “proactively challenged” is a little more up-lifting and inviting to true change! So we have endless capacity to reinvent ourselves and think and act differently; that is the leaping spirit.
So whenever you find yourself at the cliff’s edge, remember what we chose to do next is entirely up to us. Be pushed…or chose to jump!