Making the Leap: Overcoming our Fears

At the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, filmmakers Maximilien Van Aertryck and Axel Danielson shared their short documentary Ten Meter Tower.” In the film, 67 people who have never stood on a 10-meter (32 feet) high diving platform before, climb the tower, stand at the edge of the board and come to terms with their internal conflict over whether to jump into the water. The documentary offers a unique glimpse of what we all go through when we’re standing on the precipice of decision. It’s in this moment that anxiety may rise and ripple out as nervous energy or send our stomach into somersaults. Perhaps we start to doubt. We may even take our focus off the goal and fixate on the challenge. How do we move past the fear and make the leap?

Bring reinforcements

As children, we’re often taught to avoid the perils of peer pressure. Don’t give in. Be true to yourself. Yet, peer pressure can be a positive motivator in some circumstances. Having a cheerleader to offer moral support can help you ease past the niggling fears holding you back. In other words, if your bravery is lagging, borrow a friend’s.

Just do it!

In 1988, Nike kicked off an ad campaign that would encourage us all to push aside the excuses: “Just do it.” In the documentary, we see participants still heeding the slogan. Around the 1 minute 35 second mark, a young girl takes several deep breaths before clenching her first and leaping off the board. It’s not that she wasn’t every bit as nervous as those jumpers who lingered a bit longer; she was simply determined to push aside those fears and make the leap.

Weigh your options

Other jumpers take a bit more time. They pace the platform. They look over the edge. They step away. It may look like indecision. Perhaps for some, it is. In other instances, however, it’s a process of gathering information and making a plan. Taking a measured, analytical approach can help quell some of your fears. You go into a venture with your eyes wide open, prepared to handle the potential bumps in the road.

Go back down the ladder

On the diving platform, as in life, some leaps are not meant for us to take. Sometimes fear is our mind’s way of telling us this isn’t the right path. If you’ve weighed your options and reach the conclusion that this opportunity or challenge still doesn’t sit right with you, take the time to evaluate your motivation for considering it in the first place. The job offer, the new business venture, the certification program, the relationship... just because it’s been placed before you doesn’t mean it’s the right leap for you take. Be willing to climb back down the ladder and start working toward your next adventure.