Leap When You’re “Almost Ready”

It was almost 9 years ago. We were at a team building outbound in an adventure camp. Among other adventure games, we also had the opportunity to try out Bungee jumping. It was not very high, maybe about 250 ft tall crane from which we were supposed to jump off of.

Having participated in all the adventure games, we wanted to try bungee. Out of the 12 odd people in the team, only three people were willing to jump. I was one of the three. One of my friends who thought that this was a crazy act warned me and asked why did I want to even think of attempting.

My response – “How hard could it be? Any way we will have all the safety precautions to ensure that there are no accidents. Also, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and so why lose it?”

I wanted to go first. So, I got ready and wore the harness and all the other safety gear and went up to the platform from where we were to jump off. The instructor at the top of the platform first congratulated me for having the courage to be the first to attempt this in my team. He also suggested that this is an experience that I will not forget for a long time. He then warned me – “Don’t look down and you will be alright”.

Now, as it happens, when someone says, “Don’t look down”, the first thing we do is to look down. I have since read that our brains don’t understand don’t. So, for the brain, there is no difference between the instruction – “Don’t look down” and “Look down”. So, we instinctively do that. The moment I looked down, my primitive brain started working overtime. Fear kicked in. I was no longer sure if I wanted to do this.

The instructor said that I will have to jump off on the count of three. He counted – 1, 2 and 3. Nothing happened. I told him that I don’t want to do this and I would like to go down. He said, the only way down is by jumping off. He again reiterated that it is perfectly safe for me to do this. He again said, that I need to jump off at the count of three.

He counted 1, 2 and just pushed me off the ramp. The first few seconds was terrifying. Then I really enjoyed the jump thoroughly. The adrenaline hit that you get when you do this is something that can’t be explained. It needs to be experienced and felt.

I guess life is like that as well. We are never ready for anything in life. We need to take off before we are ready.

If we are lucky, we might have someone around us who believes in us and can nudge or push us,  just like the trainer did push me.

This could be our coach, friend, mentor or anyone else, who is around to interrupt our deliberating, doubt and procrastination — and push us out the ramp before we realize what’s happening!

We don’t wait to start a company when we feel ready to, because we’ll never feel ready. We start a company when we feel almost ready.

Let’s not take the job that we feel fully prepared for. Lets stretch ourself. Push ourself. Let’s take the job we feel almost ready for.

“Almost ready” is similar to The 80% Rule. Ronald Reagan argued that you don’t need someone to agree with you 100% for them to be “with you” — you just need them to be with you on 80% of the issues. That’s usually enough for them to pledge their support.

The 80% Rule applied to ourself would mean we don’t need to be 100% sure of a decision for it to be the right decision. We just need to be 80% sure — or, almost ready.