You’ve heard of that saying ‘when in Rome..’ right? Well I decided to apply it recently to ‘when in New Zealand..’ and said yes to bungy jumping last month! Wow, did I learn some powerful lessons from that. I’d love to share them with you – you never know, perhaps it will inspire you to tie a rope to your ankles and jump off a tiny platform 43m above a river (mmm, hang on a minute – what was I thinking?).
You see, the kicker with trusting yourself is simple – it’s seeing through the promises you make to yourself. Actually doing it – much harder! Can you think of a time when you made a promise and didn’t follow through? Just the little things can make a big difference. Like:
- Saying you’ll wake up early and go to the gym, then hit snooze and go back to sleep
- Telling yourself you’re not going to eat chocolate for a week, then throwing a Kit-Kat in the trolley at the supermarket to have with your afternoon coffee
- Promising yourself time to yourself, then putting everybody’s needs ahead of your own
So when I made the decision to give bungy jumping a go (and announced it to those I was travelling with) I had to see it through. There was no other option, because I now trust myself to do what I say and say what I do. And I can only trust that because I make sure I apply that to the little things too.
With trust also comes awareness. Being aware of my thought process, I knew I could make a choice about whether I would waste energy on getting anxious or not on the bus ride to the river. I chose not to. I left that til when I was standing on the tiny ledge! And then shifted my trust to others – knowing I was in good hands and was safe.
The best bit of advice I got was from the man at the check-in counter that morning. He said to us that no matter what, you must jump when they count you down. Because the longer you put it off, the worse it will get. When I reflected on that I realised that’s exactly what happens in life, at work, in relationships. The dreaded ‘tough conversation’, the report that’s due tomorrow, the thing you know you need to do but distract yourself from. In that moment I made the decision to do exactly what he said, no matter what.
- Was I scared? Hell yes!
- Did I want to change my mind? You betcha!
- Did I follow through and jump the first time? Absolutely!
- Did I love the experience? Definitely not!
- Am I glad I did it? Sure am!
After the jump I clearly had bragging rights with my friends and family, so promptly posted an update on Facebook. And the comments flowed. By far the majority of people who responded (like, over 90%) said they would never do something like that because they would be too scared. I get that. And I also see how fear has held me back from doing things in life. Fear has left me experiencing feelings of regret, disappointment and lost opportunity. What I learnt through this experience is fear is not a good enough reason for me not to do something. Because many people push through the fear. In fact, according to their website, 35,000 adventure seekers indulge in a bungy at Kawarau bridge per year.
During the jump I felt completely out of control, and didn’t enjoy that one little bit! For what felt like forever, I was faced with complete uncertainty. How many times would the rope bring me back up? When was it going to be over? How long will it take for the boat to pick me up? How can I make my body relax? The answers just didn’t come quick enough. Afterwards, it didn’t take much time to relate this to my preference in life for certainty. And I’m amongst good company – over 65% of Australians are driven by a need for certainty. (The others are clearly those who love bungy jumping for its adventure, challenge and fun).
However, as we all know life is full of uncertainty. We need to learn to deal with it, and the best way to do that? Certainty of self. We can never be certain of how others will respond and react, what choices they will make and how they will behave. But we do have control over ourselves. And so we are back to keeping the promises we make to ourselves to build self-trust.
Even though I will never go again, and I didn’t enjoy it I am so glad I did it. Given that we are meaning making machines, we get to decide what meaning we place on events. The way I see it, I had two choices:
- First option – to trust my gut instinct and never do anything scary, uncertain or outside my comfort zone ever again. I wrote that off quickly because that sounds pretty boring to me.
- Instead, I chose the second option – if I can do that, I can do anything! All the little things I fear daily that could be blown out of proportion and hold me back pale into insignificance when compared to that.
And the final bonus I received beyond self-trust? My teenage kids rated me a 9/10 on the coolness scale for a Mum. In my books, that’s pretty good.
So, when are you booking in for your bungy jump?Tags: leadership leadership coaching leadership development