This question zipped through my mind yesterday when in conversation with a young person who often digs heels in despite wanting to move forward in a career that is a passion. We have discussed this many times and what often gets in the way is the entrenched belief that they will never be polished enough, confident enough, skilled enough, or as good as peers. It seems like attempting to run with a ball and chain around your ankle and then feeling frustrated that you continue to trip and fall. The finish line seems far in the distance and unattainable.

There have been times in my own nearly 60 years that I have felt the same way. I set up goals and visions and cast my line out into the uncertain waters, plant seeds in what I hope is fertile soil and still, at times, question if there are fish out there or if the seeds will blossom into beauty. What tells me that it is possible for me, is that I have seen it in the lives of others who I deem successful. Writers and speakers who do what I do and make a full time living at it, are my role models. They stand on the ‘big stage’ and deliver the same type of messages that I do. I assure myself that each time I step out of my comfort zone, I am getting closer to that reality.

An analogy that I have long equated with this dynamic comes from my childhood. I was a water baby, splashing about it pools from an early age. I think I began swimming lessons around the age of four. Our community pool had a high dive over a 12-foot diving well and it was a goal to take a leap off of it. If memory serves, I was seven (the same year I rode my bike sans training wheels) when I climbed the ladder, heart pounding. I walked to the end of the diving board. As I am writing this, I can feel the rough sensation of the surface under my feet. Standing at the very edge, I looked down into the water that lapped up against the turquoise painted walls and floor. Uh oh…I began to have doubts that I could actually follow through. The only thing that kept me from turning around was that there was a line of other kids behind me, some with their feet already on the ladder. I had to save face. My mother stood eagerly/anxiously on the side of the pool and the lifeguard gazed with a watchful eye, as I jumped into the air and plunged into the cool depths.  A moment later, I emerged triumphantly, droplets shaking off my hair. My mother smiled, I smiled and got back in line to do it again. There wasn’t a question that I was ready enough since I proved to myself that I could do it. Once I do something, I can never doubt that I can do it again. The same is true for you.

Since then, I have taken huge leaps personally and professionally. I have raised a child as a single parent, have held many jobs, have traveled to various locations around the world, sometimes only knowing a few people or no one before embarking, have interviewed notables in various fields, have hosted a radio show, have spoken before large groups and small, intimate gatherings. I have spoken to strangers who became dear friends. I have hugged countless people on the streets, in airports, train stations, polling places, at fitness and sports events, at peace and social justice vigils, marches and rallies, as the founder of Hugmobsters Armed With Love.

What is your growing edge? What are you getting ready for?

“Leap and the net will appear.”-John Burroughs


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