Yesterday I got on a train with a friend of mine, and decided to see what the day would bring us. We found love, new things, a couple of beers, and a whole lot of fearlessness.The idea of getting on the train to begin with started with Lisa Mae. She decided to start a campaign for herself titled, “21 Days of Fearless”. The idea is to choose 21 things to do in 21 days that bring you out of your comfort zone. Some things may be as big as going skydiving, others as small as choosing something other than the standard vanilla soy latte you get every time you go to a coffee joint. She’d never been on the train in LA, and decided to become a tourist in her own back yard.
Lisa Mae is on day 16 and is finding herself a changed woman. I’ll let her tell you her story when she’s ready, and for now, I’ll tell you mine. Today is Day 2 of the challenge. Yesterday became Day 1, and I didn’t even know it when I woke up. Sure, we’d decided to jump on a train with no plan and just see where the day would take us, but I’ve been known to take a risk or two, but this was a little different, somehow.Or, at least, that’s how it ended up. (For more on where the day took us, go here)
When I take a risk, it’s usually at my own suggestion. I’m my own boss, and you’re not the boss of me, so I’ll do what I want. I’ve usually had time to weigh the pros and cons, decide how I’m going to feel once I’m on the other side, and then carefully take the plunge. Yesterday, Lisa Mae called the first shot.
From far down the walkway, Lisa Mae spotted a sign. iFly Indoor Skydiving. If you’ve known me for any length of time, you probably know that I don’t like heights. And that the thought of jumping out of a plane that isn’t about to crash seems like a mighty silly thing to do, in my eyes. So when Lisa Mae suggested we check it out, I humored her in walking up to the wind tunnel to watch a man hover above the “ground” while an instructor kept him from bouncing into the walls. As I watched the flyer, Lisa Mae requested information from the front desk.
“Good news!” she said with a smile. I was not excited to hear her good news. She went on, “Normally it’s $40 per person, but today it’s half off!” Great, I thought, sarcasm spilling over with non-joy. I told her no. No, I don’t want to pretend skydive. It’s silly and scary and I don’t want to. I then I thought about my clients.
I tell my clients that the only way to grow is to stretch yourself out of our comfort zone. It’s the growth that creates the discomfort, and our egos that tell us to step away from the discomfort. If I ask my clients to stay with the discomfort and expand into growth, then I expect myself to walk my talk, just like I’m asking them to. I turned to Lisa Mae and I said, “Let’s do it.” And so we did. And it was amazing.
We watched a short video on what to do when you’re in the wind tunnel. The wind tunnel is a Plexiglas cylinder, with bouncy cage-like flooring (which the instructor stands on while helping you not fall to the ground in embarrassment), and a giant wind maker below that shoots air up and creates the effect of falling while skydiving. In order to fly in this wind tunnel, you have to know a few simple body positions and hand signals, and then you’re ready for your flight suit.
Once in our flight suits we were directed to the benches in the chamber with the wind tunnel. We sat. The instructor asked who wanted to go first. I wasn’t the only one who thought, not me, sucker! We all looked at each other and sat in silence. And then I felt my stupid hand raise. Fearlessness had taken over, and was now running the show.
I stood up and crossed my arms just outside the door to the wind tunnel. When the instructor signaled for me to go, I leaned forward and slowly spread my body into what I thought was a decent flying pose. A few adjustments here and there: raise your chin, straighten your legs a little, bend your legs a little, raise your chin, smile… And there I was, flying! Above the ground! In a Plexiglas wind tunnel, but hey, I did it! As the instructor positioned me for a few photos while hovering, I notices a little stream of clearness flying around my face: saliva. Graciously, it was only visible to me, and I was able to get my hand up to my face and wipe it away before the photo snapped.
The experience was exhilarating, to say the least. I can’t say that I’m ready to go jump out of a plane just yest, but I can now understand firsthand the draw to skydiving. I can only imagine what it must feel like to have a view of the earth from the perspective of moving quickly towards it. The point is that the experience changed me. It took me out of my comfort zone, and into fearlessness. It took me away from my safe world where nothing changes and moved me closer to reality, where everything changes. As I’m typing this out now, I’m singing the words of Tim McGraw to myself, “I like it, I love it, I want some more of it!”
More fearlessness. I could use that in my life. So I’m going to take Lisa Mae’s 21-day challenge and see what happens. For me, it’s not about conquering any fear completely, although that just may happen, it’s more about stepping outside of my comfort zone and expanding into growth. It’s about changing things up a bit. So instead of getting a vanilla soy latte the next time I crave coffee, maybe I’ll take a look at the menu and try something new. Maybe I’ll sing Lean on Me in the subway station like Lisa Mae did yesterday morning, just for fun (although I won’t expect to receive the round of applause she did). Or maybe I’ll stand up for myself in a way I’ve never done before. The point is not to go big, it’s just to get going. Little steps, little Micro-Movements.
I’ll be sharing my fearlessness with you all as I go along on this journey, and I’m looking forward to whatever will come. Maybe I won’t do 21 fearless things, but maybe I’ll do 1, or 4, or 17. Maybe you’ll join me….maybe you’ll even share about it….
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