Last week I returned from the Languedoc Roussillon region of France. Our family holiday was filled with some great moments as well as some challenging ones – particularly with my teenage daughter – and plenty of wine, cheese and sun!
Yet of all the memories, one moment keeps repeating on me, rather like raw onion does.
We went ‘canyoning’ in the Pyrenees. The activity was targeted at children over the age of eight. Things began to go wrong when a group of twentysomething testosterone-filled men joined us as the ‘advanced canyoning’ route was closed for the day. The tour was to comprise of two and a half hours of terrifying ‘fun’ including abseiling, jumping off rocks and generally humiliating yourself in a wetsuit and yellow hard hat, plus swimming in a fast moving river and sliding down rocks.
I was terrified and a little pathetic throughout the experience. My behavior did not go unnoticed as all the men shouted “Come on, Mum!” in French accents every time I hesitated.
The ‘raw onion’ moment came when I had to jump into the river from high rocks – 4m high rocks. I froze and could not do it. The shouts and claps really did not help and I had to sit out as I was slowing down the tour. The Bulgarian tour guide was sympathetic as I justified my reluctance: “I have got fixed in my thinking,” I said. “I cannot snap out of the mind set that I cannot do it – let me sit out for a few minutes and I will sort my head out and try again.”
I suddenly realized that it was not the first time that this had happened. Being unable to ‘jump’ is a recurring theme when I am faced with an uncertain situation at home, or at work or play – I lose my nerve and freeze. I waited. I thought through my anxiety. I assessed the risk. I knew my fear was irrational. I had nothing to fear but fear itself. The jump was safe. 9 people (including my husband and two sons) had already done it. I had read up on the ‘canyoning’. I had done my research. I took five minutes to ‘loosen up’ my thinking then I threw myself off the side of the rocks, my ears ringing with the predictable cheers, whoops and congratulations. It was a small triumph, but I felt liberated.
My moment of reflection before jumping off the rock in the Pyrenees has inspired me on a number of occasions this past week, now I am back at work. Its value has been reiterated as I tackle sales, report writing, researching and most importantly as I examine my attitude. I have also realized that being ‘frozen’ affects many people, all the time. It’s not just about me!
In fact the more I think about it, the more I see that my role with clients is to ensure that the ‘water’ is safe for them. Market research is such a good way of establishing if it looks safe to jump.
Please contact me if you would like some advice on how to JUST JUMP into new opportunities!