My very first post in 2014, Just Jump, I detailed my experience facing one of my fears as a 50+year- old: Jumping off a 3 meter diving board. I said jumping. Feet first, not diving. It took me till about 50 to even jump off of a low diving board. Yes, I could swim, but when you try to do new athletic things in your 50s, 60s and beyond, it is a little more, well, terrifying. I wrote that my motivation was seeing little children jumping off the high board with abandon, so I tricked myself into doing it. For the next decade plus, I forced myself to do at least one high jump in every swimming session. I was still terrified, but had trained my feet and my mind to keep going, nonetheless.
That process helped train me to walk towards scary confrontations, not away from them.
It was a feat I used for confronting other, more terrifying challenges: People and situations that frightened me. The level of courage and self-respect I’d gain would be worth the risk.
As if that wasn’t enough, at the age of 62 I decided I wanted to learn to dive! My actual target age was 60 but a couple of painful “face plants” later while trying to teach myself, I gave up. Then, I saw the notice for diving lessons. Even though it was for children, it was the answer to my dream. You can imagine the looks I got on day 1? (Same as on days 2 – 16).
What is she doing here???
By this time, however, pride was no longer a factor in whether or not I pursued a goal. It’s a good thing because in 3 years of diving I have crashed and burned so many times, been asked by life guards if I was ok, had lifeguards run to get me ice when I didn’t ask for it because they figured that looked painful!. I tend to go swimming at an indoor pool during what I call the “senior citizen hour” and I’ve actually been thanked by an elderly man for providing him with entertainment! True story.
It took over 6 months of diving to get through the abject terror of going in head first. Then, another year to actually jump up, rather than fall off the board. Then I feared jumping higher. Just before the pandemic closed everything, I had a you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me trampoline session by a new dive coach. Then when I went for my dive approach* I got better height than ever before.
I definitely have a knack for seeking challenges, but I encourage you to look for that Big Scarey Thing you’ve been avoiding. Something you secretly long to try but perhaps have been held back by fear or because you think you “shouldn’t try that at your age”. My youngest teases me with, “Mom, you’re like, 100 years old! Why do you keep trying to do young people things?” Truth is, this (former) child that I had in my late 30s was my incentive for jumping off diving boards in the first place. I was teaching him, at 8-years-old, to do things I hadn’t done yet!
Transfer the strength from that attempt or accomplishment to other areas of your life. It’s good mental training. Good emotional and heart training. It’s essential leadership training. Find your fear – face it, then find another. It makes life worth living.
To read “Just Jump” click here: https://wordpress.com/post/lindajohnsonleadership.com/14
*The diving “approach” is the particular hop-walk down the dive board prior to take off.
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