You know those moments in life when you just know you have to do it, or else you’ll die… while everyone else sits back and tells you ‘You’re crazy, stay put’.
“An Entrepreneur is someone who jumps off a cliff and builds the plane on the way down.”
I think this quote applies even if you don't see yourself as an Entrepreneur, but you are just making a big change in your life, or trying something new, or setting a big, bold goal for yourself…. taking that Leap of Faith — and Jumping!
I have done this a time or two in my life. Probably the first time I can remember was upon graduation from High School. I attended a fairly prestigious school where the graduation rate was 100% and the College enrollment was also 100%. Moreover, many of my classmates were being accepted to Elite and Ivy League schools. When I started the college application process, I wasn’t really clear yet on what I wanted out of a university nor what I wanted to study. While I did apply to 5 different schools — and received acceptance to all 5 — I felt ‘stuck’. In my gut, I knew none of these schools were for me. So, on my own, I made the decision to take a year off between high school and college to “figure it out”. I needed time to explore my interests and find a program that would work for me. This was a huge leap! Not only did my parents panic, but I’m sure I was a huge disappointment to my high school administrators. I was graduating from one of the best schools in the country (it makes all those fancy lists) and I was going to do what for the next year— work at Applebees??? (yes, that’s exactly what I did!) Suffice it to say, it all worked out. I took a step back, took a deep breath, and began to tap into what my inner voice was saying. I enrolled in a small state school the following year — it was a far cry from Ivy League, but it was one of the best decisions of my life. I walked in Day One understanding exactly what I wanted and what direction I wanted to go in… and I declared my major immediately: Journalism :)
Yes, I had jumped and built my plane on the way down, and now I was going fly.
Another time I jumped was several years into my career as a TV journalist, about a year after getting married. My husband and I were living in Arkansas, but we both felt ready to go somewhere new and plant some roots. He was at a point in his career he really needed to make a move…. and move we did! He took a job in North Carolina after only a 12-hour visit with his new employer, and I quit my job in Television. We moved across the country to a place I had never seen nor visited. We found our rental house through a friend who had a connection in the area, and the first time I laid eyes on it was the day we arrived in our U-Haul. I had no job, no friends, no idea where I was, or what I was going to do. I just jumped…… We didn’t crash and nobody died. Instead, we figured it out, built our plane, and began flying.
Then, one day my husband jumped. He was in serious turmoil with his business and his business partners, realizing his passion for his career had died and his business relationships had become toxic. So he came home one day and rather abruptly told me he was leaving his business. Beside the mild panic on my end (we had a new baby), I could see in his eyes he was serious and he felt no other way except to go over that Cliff.
I think that’s what happens when you get to the edge — You look across that valley and you realize how far down it goes and how painful it would be if you crashed. It’s scary!! But then, you look behind you at your current reality, and you realize you’d die an even faster death if you stayed. Jumping off the Cliff is the only option for true survival.
Those are the moments that really build who you are as a person and set you up for greatness. It forces you to ‘figure it out’…. and once you do, the happiness and joy and freedom you experience is like soaring high above the clouds in weightlessness. It’s euphoric. It’s quiet and clear. It’s beautiful.
The chaos and insanity are no more.
Figuring it out and building planes is not easy. In fact, it’s very hard work. It’s painful and pleasurable at the same time. It’s a minute-by-minute test of your survival skills. But the rewards that follow are immeasurable.
Following my year off after high school, I grew tremendously as a young woman and learned early in my life how to listen to what my inner being was saying to me. I became a real independent thinker. It’s what led me to later quit my job in Television — a career I had to claw my way into and work horrendous hours to stake my spot — because I listened when my inner voice urged me to try something new. I understood that my skill set would continue to serve me in a new way, and as a result, I flew into a new career of script writing and video producing. The same is true of my husband’s journey. He had grown and learned so much building his career and business — that when it was no longer fun, challenging, or fulfilling — he figured out a way to build a plane and fly into a new industry of coaching other business leaders and executives.
I really believe these principles apply anywhere, anytime. Anyone can build a plane.
Maybe it applies when someone signs up for a half-marathon despite years of being overweight and unhealthy. That person is taking a leap of faith that by the time the starting gun goes off, she will have figured out how to build her plane.
Maybe it applies to the man who has forever been focused on career and ambition, he’s taken very little time for love and family…. until his girlfriend comes home one day and tells him she’s pregnant! Boy is he ever staring down a deep valley when he decides to jump. He’s got 9 months to build his plane……
Or maybe it’s you — right now standing on the ledge of life — trying to figure out whether you’ll jump or stay put. You’re telling yourself a thousand times over you have no idea how to build this plane. You don’t even own a screwdriver! Yet you’re looking across the valley at where you really want to go, and your right foot just inches closer to the edge. You stick your neck out. Your arms reach up. You’re left foot steps forward. You can hear everyone behind you saying “Don’t do it! Don’t do it”. But then the wind silences their cries. You hear birds singing as they soar up above. The breeze wraps around you like a warm blanket of love. You see a bright LIGHT down below….. and you JUMP.
Start building your plane!!! You are ready and you’re going to FLY.