“You can’t be that kid standing at the top of the waterslide, overthinking it. You have to go down the chute.” – Tina Fey
We can want to change, even know we need to change, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we will change. It takes urgency and clarity to change things up. Here’s what I mean.
A forty-something woman names Beverly raised her hand in a SOMEDAY presentation in Waikiki and said, “I’ve been to inspiring keynotes before. I go home all fired up, then life intervenes, and two weeks later everything is back to same old, same old. Any suggestions?”
I told her, “Have a pretend S.E.E. to give yourself a sense of urgency and clarity. An S.E.E. is a Significant Emotional Event. Unfortunately, most are dramatic or traumatic. We get fired, divorced, have a heart attack or lose a loved one. This forces us to re-evaluate the way we’re living. We realize there are no guarantees so we’re motivated to focus on what’s important and change things up now because we realize we may not get a second chance. The way I see it, why not have a pretend S.E.E. so we get the epiphany without the pain?”
“What’s an example of a pretend S.E.E.?”
“We can do one right here, right now. Just ask yourself, “If I only had a week to live, what would I stop doing? What would I start doing? What would I do differently?”
“You’re asking us to imagine we’re going to croak in a week? Isn’t that a little morbid?”
I smiled, “Thinking about our mortality isn’t morbid; it’s motivating. Sometimes it’s just the incentive we need to stop taking our life, health, loved ones and freedoms for granted and to change our life – for good.
She said, “Okay, I’ll play along. If I only had a week to live, I would stop letting fear rule my life and start doing things that scare me.”
“Like going into the ocean. I watched JAWS when I was a kid. Big mistake. Here I am in Hawaii and I haven’t even gone into the water.”
I said, “Okay, let’s hack that fear. One way to hack fears is to realize they don’t prevent things from going wrong; they prevent things from going right. Do you know about the swim area by the Natatorium where Duke Kahanamoku used to swim? It’s only three feet deep so there’s no way you can get in over your head, and there’s only one small opening in the sea wall so the surf can’t get in and neither can the sharks. Let’s put a date on the calendar so you don’t wiggle out of your intentions. When are you leaving the islands?”
“We fly out in two days.”
“Then tomorrow is the day. Schedule a 6 a.m. wake-up call. When the alarm goes off and you’re tempted to roll over and go back to sleep, ask yourself, ‘What will matter a year from now? That I got an extra hour of sleep? Or that I finally overcame a fear that’s been keeping me from living full out, and I got up and outside and had a one-of-a-kind experience I’ll always be grateful for?”
“It’s worth a try. But why 6 am?”
“Because sunrise is at 6:30 am and you want to be at water’s edge, ready to step into the ocean the moment the sun rises over Diamond Head. It will be what Hawaiians call a ‘chicken skin’ experience. Experiences are more meaningful when they’re metaphors. You’re not just stepping into the ocean, you’re stepping into a new way of life where you remember your mortality and make changes to make the most of life now, not someday.”
I added, “Here’s my card with my number. Text me and let me know how it goes, okay?”
The next day Beverly texted, “I DID IT!” with an exclamation point and smiley face emoji.
What is a change you want to make? Instead of vaguely promising yourself you’ll do it someday, could you have a pretend S.E.E. to give yourself a sense of urgency and clarity so you’re motivated to act on it today?
If fears are holding you back, ask yourself, “What will matter a year from now?” Remember, fears don’t prevent things from going wrong; they prevent things from going right.
As Tina Fey points out, we can’t be that kid standing at the top of the waterslide never going in. Courage is just remembering what’s important.
You will never regret doing something that makes you happier, healtheir, more fulfilled. You’ll only regret playing it safe, letting fear win, and taking yourself out of the game of life.
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Sam Horn, CEO of the Intrigue Agency, is on a mission to help people create a quality life-work that adds value for all involved. Her TEDx talk and books Tongue Fu!, POP! and Washington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? have been featured in NY Times and presented to Intel, Capital One, NASA, Boeing, YPO, Cisco. Want Sam to present her inspiring keynote for your conference? Contact Cheri@IntrigueAgency.com.