Going First Hurts
I’m on my way to Guatemala, but first I returned to Florida to spend some time with a friend I met at last month’s Miami business conference. He rented a house for the weekend and had gathered a group of friends to spend time together.
On our second day in the house we all went swimming. We headed to the beach, splashed in the waves, and threw an old football around. When we got home, we decided that jumping in the river behind the house was also a good idea as well. The house had a beautiful dock that stretched 150 feet into the river, and about 2/3rds of the way out was a ladder so you could climb up after jumping in.
After deciding we wanted to go to the river, we all just hung out in the kitchen. I realized nobody had actually left for the dock. I felt like this was an opportunity for me to energize the group and I headed outside towards the river.
When I got to the ladder I turned and quickly jumped off into a dive. I didn’t hesitate, I just leapt in.
My hands parted the murky water, but they didn’t get far. My head slammed into the riverbed, pain shot through my neck and shoulders, and my vision literally turned red thanks to the clay and mud. I was so shocked I just remained still. Was something broken? Did I do any serious damage to my neck?
The water was just 3 feet deep, but it was so muddy you couldn’t tell. The ladder was about 100 feet out into the river and I had assumed I had at least 20 feet to dive down. I was very wrong.
Moving slightly, it didn’t seem like I’d had any permanent damage, but it certainly hurt to move. Bringing my head above the water to breath, I stretched my arms as much as possible, but the pain was pretty bad and my range of motion was very low. Looking towards shore, I saw that the others were just heading out onto the dock.
Everyone was surprised to see me kneeling in just 3 feet of water. “Don’t jump in.” I said “It’s not as deep as you think.”
Being First Can Hurt
In almost every book I’ve read, whether it be about business, relationships, or personal development, the message is usually the same.
Take bold action.
Don’t be afraid to fail.
Don’t be afraid to get hurt.
These ideas are all very important. Most leaders are willing to put their neck on the line in order to move ahead. I’ve read many books on the subject and this mentality has been engrained in my psyche.
What I forgot, however, and what I was abruptly reminded of this weekend, was that taking action without fear of being hurt can actually lead to being hurt. Sometimes you conquer your fear, take action, dive in, and slam into the riverbed.
And the more bold you are, the more chance there is that you will get hurt.
This is true whether you’re diving into a new business, a new relationship, or a shallow river in Florida.
That said, you can be a little smarter than me. You don’t need to dive head first into murky water. You could still be the first one on the dock but climb down the ladder safely to test the water. You can be smarter.
But you can’t eliminate risk all together. The only way to do that is to take such small action that there is no chance to become a leader.
You need to be bold in some ways and yes, sometimes it will hurt.
Is the risk worth it?
That’s up to you.