What keeps us from making the occasional leap of faith? Fear. Fear is appropriate, instinctual reaction, and really good when we are doing things like facing a bear, or in my case jumping out of a plane, but we let fear stop us from doing so many things in our lives. Somewhere along our evolutionary journey fear went from primal requirement for survival to a manufactured excuse for inaction.
We use fear as a driver to continually ask ourselves why we can't do something different, execute on our ideas, or take a chance on a business opportunity. Instead of looking forward to what is possible we keep seeking what will go wrong until we find an unproven reason to confirm our fears rather than looking for new ways to unleash our potential. This is a confirmation bias mixed with a self-fulfilling prophecy of the highest order.
The result is we stay stuck. Stuck in jobs we have outgrown. Stuck in personal or professional lives that are no longer working. Stuck living in places that no longer brings us joy. Stuck with customer facing products or services that we know are no longer market leading.
Change is never easy. But stagnating is worse, and the fastest path to irrelevancy. So its time to fuel the leap of faith with logic, and use it to counter the inaction that can come with fear.
With a logic fueled leap of faith:
1. Look Before You Leap. Before we make leaps of faith we should consider their effect on others in our immediate world. There should be a "why the f*** not" component to leaps of faith, but be kind about it. If your "why the f***" not" moment is mean-spirited, not aligned with your integrity, or the current views of the legal system with which you find yourself in, you may want a little more fear, not less. First, do no harm.
2. 10x That Worst Case Scenario Endlessly Looping In Your Head. Take that worst case scenario you're obsessing and multiply it by a factor of 10. Let your imagination and fear run wild, now that's a fear worthy of obsession. If your imagined worst case scenario had you destitute and living in a van down by the river, good. It means you have honestly done the exercise to it's intended extreme. Then logically reflect on it. True, you are living in a van, but you're still breathing and existing so rather than letting the fear stop you ask yourself to take the positive route and strategize on how to mitigate the worst case scenario in your head and what would be your recovery plan.
You will quickly find in your planning that almost everything is in fact recoverable. The point here is to look at the reward versus the risk Chances are the reward is much bigger and the probability of our imagined worst-case scenario coming true is remote compared to the probability of the upside of taking a leap of faith.
2. Create The Future. You have used logic to look at the fear-based worst case scenario, and the much more likely possible. Now invert your 10x worst case scenario and use the same process to 10x your future. If this exercise has you concerned that you are in need of a psychiatric evaluation for your delusions of grandeur, good. You did it correctly. What does that wild success look like?
Take all the time and energy you would have applied towards the fear and apply it toward actions that create your future that you envision.
3. Common Things Occur Commonly. There is an old saying in medicine that common things occur commonly. Meaning that in attempting to diagnosis a patient, the frequently seen medial problems are far more likely the cause of the patients problem, rather than a rare illness. It is an exercise in probability.
You've explored the extremes of your failure and success scenarios so now ask yourself what's the most likely outcome of your leap of faith? Don't overthink it. What's the most probable outcome?
3. Make Big Fears Small. Minimize the perceived risk of failure by prototyping and testing. We can prototype anything, a career change, a new service or product, a new lifestyle. Anything can and should be prototyped and tested.
Prototyping and testing cuts the heart out of fear, and the associated risk much smaller through learning. Through iterative learning, we refine and grow stronger, and the risk and fear get weaker. However don't turn this into a data driven, analysis by paralysis exercise, the perpetual hunt for more data is just another excuse for inaction with a diminishing return over time. Have a bias towards action with what you have and keep moving forward.
4. Take the leap. Assuming you have done an honest personal inventory and the reward potential is greater than the risk potential it's time to take the leap. We only get so many days on the planet, and many of those are an assumption. So fear isn't just costing you the lost opportunities from inaction it's also costing physical, emotional and spiritual health, worst fear is costing you the most time.
Hopefully you will be more elegant than I was when you leap but don't let the fear stop you from doing what you think and feel is right.
The cost of inaction is likely higher then the cost of action.
So go for it. The only thing stopping you is you.