They told me to jump.
“Dare me,” I said.
Then I jumped.
Not from my roof. Not from a tree. (Nothing that exciting)
Not even a swing set.
It was January, and I was at a retreat on Lake Lanier in North Georgia with about 30 other creative entrepreneurs. On the first day of the retreat, our leader pointed to the pool behind the house, and said, “If you want to have a breakthrough, sometimes you need to shock your body.”
Darn it. I was hoping for an inspirational message, some practical workshops, maybe a networking opportunity or two.
But this—no. This felt like the truth or dare of my childhood. I had fixed my hair for this retreat. I didn’t want to jump in the pool. “This is good ‘ol fashioned peer pressure,” my friend whispered.
And I was much too old for such childlike games.
A few years earlier, just as the leaves were beginning to change from green to gold and amber, my son jumped into the deep end of a cold pool. Warm days had given way to cool nights. His breath caught in his throat, and he sunk like a stone. I watched it happen in slow motion. A friend jumped in fully clothed and saved him. I don’t think I breathed again until they were both out of the water and wrapped like burritos in warm towels on the deck.
That was a decade ago.
In the ten years since, I have been raising my kids. Cooking their meals. Making their beds. Volunteering at school. Sending them to swim lessons. I loved the life we had built, but now I was ready for something new. I wanted to jump.
I gazed at the pool from the window.
A little later I peeped over the fence on tiptoe.
Finally, I stood at the slippery edge.
And then I jumped.
It was a breakthrough. Not only had I broken through the water, but I overcame my fear of the cold. Of course, I didn’t die. I didn’t even go into hypothermia!
All of my senses were heightened. I felt alive! You might be thinking, “Dude. It was just a pool. What was the big deal?”
The big deal was that I learned something about the way our brains work that day:
Dare yourself not to focus on the cold. Instead, focus on the experience.
Dare yourself to do something you’ve never done before. It opens up possibility in your mind.
Dare yourself to tell the truth about who you are. Some of us are daredevils, and some of us truth tellers. The magic happens when you figure out how to be both.
I wish I could tell you that I had a huge breakthrough that week. I didn’t, really. Nothing earth shattering or soul changing. I did just look over my notes, though, and they are chock full of things I want to remember—most notably what I wrote about courage. (If you’d like those notes or a list of questions to help you overcome your fear, please email me at email@example.com and I’ll happily send them to you).
I’m not fearless, but I can fear less.
Maybe you have something important to do. Maybe you’re scared. It’s okay. Do something you’ve never done before, but don’t be surprised if something new and beautiful emerges inside you.
Will you jump?
I dare you.