When I was 13 years old, I took a trip to Wisconsin Dells with one of my best friends and his family. We spent the days and nights going to water parks, riding go-carts, playing mini-golf, and doing everything that Wisconsin Dells has to offer. On one of the last days of our trip, my friend’s father came up with a great idea to go bungee jumping from a 200 foot platform. I was away from my parents in the days when cell phones were not a thing, so our approach was to do this and beg for forgiveness later.
As we climbed the stairs and rode the cart to the top of the
platform, there were a mix of emotions working their way through my body. I was excited, scared, nervous, happy, and did I mention scared to death? The ride to the top probably took less than ninety seconds; however, it felt like two hours. There were two fairly cocky men in front of us on the way to the top, talking about how they were planning to do flips off the platform to start their jumps. I was scheduled to jump after these two “big shots.” Something amazing happened that was full of karma. When these two men got to the edge of the platform, they chickened out and chose not to jump. It was a bit of a scene, because the only way down is an inconvenient, embarrassing ride in the cart. It was now my turn and I was faced with a choice of safety or personal growth. The easy thing to do was to follow the pattern of the two men in front of me. I’m grateful to share that I faced my fear and made the leap. I really can’t adequately describe the experience, other than it was amazing.
I tell this story because we have proverbial jumps in front of us each day where we can choose safety or growth. It is wired within our brains to pursue safety and avoid threats. Will we have the difficult conversation, try the new instructional practice, do the difficult work, or avoid these things and stay within our comfort zones? The easy thing to do is teach and lead the same way that you always have. The safe play is to avoid confrontation and pretend that your colleague didn't really mean it when he or she was disrespectful with an off-handed comment. It isn't hard to turn your back on under performance. It's difficult, uncomfortable, and necessary to face your fear while addressing situations like the ones I have described above if you want to be great. When we begin this work, it certainly threatens our safety, but leads to incredible growth. When we choose growth, we typically do not regret it.