Branson, Missouri is known for cheesy shows, vacation attractions, outdoor recreation and moments of individual breakthroughs. Actually, the moments of individual breakthroughs reflect a more personal experience. To be specific, at a corporate retreat in Branson I encountered a personal breakthrough. Someone suggested that I go jump off a cliff, and I did!
One afternoon’s strategic exercise involved the team taking a boat on the lake for swimming and sunning. Eventually, we came upon a sheer cliff overlooking the water. Some younger team members leaped out the boat and swam to the path that led to the top of the cliff. They promptly ascended to the top of the cliff where they jumped, squealed and splashed.
Additional team members seized the moment, climbed the cliff, then subsequently jumped, squealed and splashed. When they encouraged me to join them, I strategically analyzed the risk, factored in that I was a marginal swimmer, observed that the water was too cold and concluded to stay in the boat. Contradicting my argument, the team challenged my manhood, questioned my leadership skills and attacked my corporate risk aversion. So I ascended to the top of the cliff, where I reluctantly jumped, then promptly squealed and splashed!
Dropping into the water at 32 feet per second per second took much longer than expected. I began to hold my breath well before I splashed. The water was cold and warm at the same time. Below the surface, I descended deeper than I anticipated and ran out of air on the way up. Yet, miraculously emerged from the water to the best tasting oxygen ever. After reflecting upon my escape from the watery tomb, I raced up the cliff to do it again! And then I did it again several times more.
My personal development breakthrough was to look fear in the face and conquer the challenge. The professional lesson is to evaluate the risk, perform a rational analysis, then make a decision based on individual capacity and determination. It is the human spirit that drives results, not a spreadsheet, business model, or strategic plan. Personal development requires stretching oneself and using the exhilaration of success to stretch further.
Whether your objective is physical, entrepreneurial, professional, or educational, you must do more than you believe you can. The physical, mental, human muscle is designed to be stretched, then strengthened. Analysis and careful evaluation is designed for the status quo. Do not wait for your team members to encourage you; that sounds too much like a committee. Seek your personal challenge that cannot logically be done. Not swimming well is still swimming! Figure out how to breathe underwater. Embrace the thrill of doing more than you can imagine, then do it again. Now, go jump off a cliff!
By Glenn Hunter
Principal of Hunter & Beyond