Yesterday, I was speaking with a friend of mine about indecision and taking risks, and he used a phrase so profound and so inspiring that I returned to this blog after over a year of avoiding it, feeling guilty about avoiding it, and wondering if writing a blog is the best choice for me. He said ‘you can’t half jump off a cliff.’
As a writer, I was so touched by these words that I had to stop to get a pen and paper and write the phrase down. We continued to discuss the metaphor, laughing while imagining a person trying to jump while at the same time holding onto the rocks for dear life.
I could relate very well to this scenario as I suffer from both ‘fear of heights’ and ‘fear of failure,’ meaning the mere thought of both the metaphorical and literal jumps makes my adrenaline soar and my heartbeat increase. I can remember numerous past situations in which I stood at a precipice overlooking a pool of water and contemplated taking the plunge. The longer I stood, weighing my options, or trying to encourage myself to jump, the less likely I was to actually make the leap.
My hesitation was my downfall, just as it is in the more figurative leap, the one this metaphor is designed to teach us about, taking a risk either in life or business or love. Whether it be making a cold call to a potential client, with full knowledge that your chances of making the sale are slim, signing up for a yoga class, while knowing that you will likely be the least flexible person in the room or asking your classmate out for a cup of coffee, fear of failure can be paralyzing.
For me, fear of failure is comorbid with indecision, both symbiotically feeding off the other, growing more and more powerful the longer I hesitate.
The only way to break the cycle is to realize that inaction is the very failure we had been dreading, and that by making an effort to try and accomplish something, we will be much richer than we would be if we don’t ever begin. We need to retrain ourselves to understand that the failure of inaction is far worse than anything that could happen if we try and don’t succeed.
So instead of dipping our toes in and checking the temperature of the water, sometimes we just have to take a running start and jump in with both feet.