I'm eight years old and standing on the trunk of a couple hundred year old cedar tree staring at the water forty feet below me. No longer vertical, this tree fell across a chasm to create the perfect launch point for daredevil divers into the river below.
The first thing I saw that afternoon when we arrived at the state park was a teenager do a backflip off of the log. I'd done backflips before... on my cousin's trampoline. I told myself, "I could do that, but I probably shouldn't." We hike all afternoon, starting and ending near the log bridge. As we head to the car to leave, I feel a tug of regret start to form in my stomach.
"Come on, Jason, it's now or never!" My Dad yells, having patiently waited the last five minutes as I stood on the log trying to muster the courage.
I plant my right foot on a knob, the toes of my left foot grip the bark, and I push, throwing my head back like I had all of those time on the trampoline. Before I know it, the cold water consumes me and I'm swimming back to the surface triumphantly.
Some parents my read this and think, "I can't believe that Dad let his eight year old son backflip off a forty foot log." Honestly, me either. But I'm glad he did.
It could be that he was just a "cool" parent, or maybe he knew the power in taking risks.
Maybe he knew that by conquering that fear, I'd be able to conquer others.
Maybe he knew that people that take risks more often may fail more often, but they also find success at higher rates as well.
Maybe he knew that taking risks early on helps us discover parts of ourselves we may not have otherwise.
Maybe you can't do a backflip, but you can talk to a stranger, try a food you can't pronounce, and trust your gut. Go ahead, step off that log and take a risk.
Take one small risk before you get home today.
Who is the biggest "daredevil" you know? Ask them what the secret to taking risks is.
“Progress always involves risk; you can't steal second base and keep your foot on first.”
- Frederick Wilcox