Yesterday was a cloudy, glowering, blustery day with the threat of rain. A perfect day to sleep in, or nap.
Instead, I spent the afternoon watching a friend learn how to fly.
She was taking her first lesson on the trapeze. What an adventure! She is someone who truly knows how to take wise risks.
The video below is only 30 seconds long, but it's fascinating. It's only her second time in the air, and her very first lesson.
I'm in awe...
Another first-time student there was a white-haired grandmother, "M," also taking her first lesson; M has a 9 year old granddaughter who is afraid of heights, and she wanted to show the granddaughter how to work with that fear. I videotaped her as well, and sent her the video to share with her grandchild. M will continue taking lessons. And so will my friend in the video above--she's already in the process of signing up for the next flying class.
As I watched, excited and inspired, I thought about how there are many kinds of risk-taking required of all of us, not just this kind. My own risk-taking comes in other forms; I was certainly not built to try flying! But what is portrayed in the video underscores what is required in taking any risk, what is required of any kind of creative endeavor:
1) Daring to try something new.
2) Doing clear-eyed research (she carefully checked out this organization before signing on to take a lesson).
3) Showing up, even if you're frightened.
4) Learning from the wisdom of experience (the teachers).
5) Wearing a safety harness (if possible) until you know what you're doing.
6) Learning about timing, learning about momentum...in the air or on the ground.
7) Leaping off, even when you're scared and don't know what will happen. EXPERIENCE is the real teacher.
8) Accepting feedback on how it's going, and modifying what you're doing if you sense the feedback is right.
9) Practice, practice, practice.
10) Knowing when to stop; don't over do. (She reached a point where she was too exhausted to continue, and although the lesson could have continued, she wisely called a halt--meaning she still had enthusiasm and motivation to go back and keep working on this as she gradually builds up stamina.)
Daily life is a risk. We constantly face small risks at work and at home (in some parts of the world, the risk of daily life is immense;we are the lucky ones). How we tackle risk, and how we react to the results--success and failure--is how we learn. Ray Bradbury once said, "You've got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down." Scary stuff, yet we do it daily.
I'll be thinking about all the implications for work and for life, for creative endeavors, and for all forms of learning. Where am I taking risks in my life, and am I being wise in the risks I take?
How about you?