“Go ahead, jump! I promise I will catch you.”
She heard the words she wanted to hear and took the four-foot leap off the water trampoline and into my arms like the brave kid I know her to be. All she needed was to hear me promise her nothing would go wrong, and she threw caution to the wind and leaped. In reality, my fear of not catching her was probably greater than her fear of jumping. I caught her, this time.
As parents, we make these promises to our children all the time, even though we have no idea what the end result will be. It’s a part of growing up and learning the biggest rewards come to those who take the leaps of faith. If you’ve ever watched a group of kids at the playground, you’ll quickly notice children make the best leapers.
Somewhere along the way a lot of us—myself included—lose the trust in ourselves, and the instinct to leap. Instead we opt for the safer path. I don’t have an answer for why that is, in my case at least, but I guess it’s a combination of factors such as complacency, laziness and fear of failure. Certainly there are a lot of things I want to do with my life, but fear has held me back.
A four-year-old jumping off a water trampoline may not seem like a big deal to an adult, but for her it was equivalent to me bungee jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. Watching her pride as she emerged from the water shouting “AGAIN! AGAIN!” reminded me of how good it feels to accomplish something scary and new.
As strange as it sounds, witnessing my daughter leap off that trampoline inspired me to start doing some leaping of my own. I dusted off my Ideas Notebook and I began picking items I would like to tackle. Since that day I have launched my own company, started two podcasts, completed my first 5K in the Canada Army Run and signed up at my local fitness club.
It doesn’t take long for parents to figure out children notice everything they do. Even if it was something harmless that happened months before, your child will bring it up at the most random time and shock you with how much she or he retained. With that said, I want my children to see their father as someone ambitious enough to go after his dreams so they have a reference point as they get older.
I may not achieve everything I set out to do but I feel it’s important to have some victories on my report card, not just for the kids to see, but for my own confidence as well. It wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world for my children to see me get knocked down, as long as I get back up and carry on. Besides, people tend to forget about the losses when they are outnumbered by successes.
So go ahead, climb to the top of your water trampoline and take a leap. You are never too old to start something new and your children will carry your successes with them as they grow and decide which leaps they are going to take.