The Flying Leap

Sometimes you just have to take The Flying Leap, engaging in some big inspired action that would otherwise make no sense under ordinary circumstances. The Flying Leap occurs when your inspiration and desire for change become bigger than your fear.

You may have to get really uncomfortable  in your life before you take The Flying Leap. You may have been engaging in some learned helplessness, convinced that you’re powerless to become an agent of serious change in your life. You may have to wait until you get good and sick of the way things are. You might even find yourself feeling angry about the fact that you’re living a life that doesn’t fit who you are. Maybe you’re tired of being broke, lonely, jobless, uninspired, stuck in your dead end job, or only having two weeks of vacation a year.

Once you get to the point where you’ll do anything to change your status quo, you’ve ignited the desire for change that leads to inspired action. You’re ready to take your Flying Leap, so you jump.

Performing The Flying Leap is terrifying. If you look down, you’re literally sailing over a huge abyss of fear and possible disaster. You’re not entirely sure that you won’t crash and burn. However, if you’re making major changes in your life, uncertainty and fear are normal. In fact, being scared tells you when you’ve achieved lift off and moved out of your comfort zone instead of just thinking about testing the waters.  

This is not to say that you take The Flying Leap without some preparation. To give yourself some propulsion and lift to carry you through The Flying Leap, you might get a running start. A running start is a chain of smaller inspired actions that give you momentum, courage, and confidence to finally overcome fear and take The Flying Leap. As I’ve often said, think big but start small.

The really great part about The Flying Leap is that your willingness to take inspired action lets you know how serious you are about making changes. As I’ve also said, taking inspired concrete, real action (instead of overthinking, overplanning, and overpreparing) is one of the best ways to show yourself that you are absolutely not messing around. You are taking action. You’ve suddenly sent an unmistakable message to yourself, the universe, and everyone around you that you’re serious about this thing you’re doing.

What’s your version of The Flying Leap? Maybe it’s quitting your job, falling in love, getting a divorce, starting a business, making a career change, cutting toxic people out of your life, moving to a new city where you know no one, traveling the world solo, applying for the new job you’d love but feel unqualified to apply for, or finally publishing your book of poetry.

If you’re taking big, inspired, and creative action this week and you’re freaking out, I am too. I took a couple of Flying Leaps this week and yes, I’m FREAKING OUT.

First, I took steps to get my July writing retreat off the ground. In 2017, I decided that I wanted to create a women’s writing retreat in Mexico. Sometime in the fall, I went as far to rent an AirBNB with space for eight people and then chickened out and didn’t tell anyone about it. I quite literally wanted people to just sign up without ever telling anyone that it existed. I wanted people to just magically know that I was now in the business of running writing retreats and to sign up without having to put myself in any kind of a vulnerable spot.

I was afraid that I wasn’t qualified enough, experienced enough, creative enough, organized enough, or wealthy enough to create a week-long retreat in a cool city that I love that would inspire people and help them take their own Flying Leap. My internal critic rolled her eyes and asked me with maximum contempt who the hell I thought I was. (The answer, of course, is that I AM ME.) Fear screamed at me from the back seat to stop driving the car immediately before someone got seriously injured.

This week my Flying Leap was to rent another nice AirBNB space in Mérida, Yucatan, this time for July 22-28. I’m sending out an email about my retreat to my email list. I’m creating welcome and information materials. I’m making a spot for it on my website. I'm serious this time.

I don’t know the outcome. I sincerely hope that five to eight people decide to come hang out with me in Mexico and get some writing done. I’ll promote my retreat with everything I’ve got. And I know it still might end in disaster. If so, I’ll have learned something from the experience and use that information to make the next Flying Leap.

(Shameless plug: if you want some information and updates about my retreat, I’m collecting emails now and should have registration open in a few weeks. You can sign up for email updates and news about my retreat here. And no, seriously, if you haven’t been to Mérida, you are MISSING OUT. It’s one of my favorite cities and I’d love to show you around and write with you!)

My other Flying Leap involved figuring out a new direction for my business. I do freelance editing for scholars, which I really love. I get to help people shape all of this fascinating research that I would not ever know existed. I’ve learned so much from all of my clients. I love helping people resolve their writing problems. It’s fun to be behind the scenes with people and I’m always proud to play a part in people’s successes.

But I was getting restless. I wanted to engineer some of my own success. Having my own work recognized is probably one of the things that I miss the most about being an academic. I wanted to be recognized for my own ideas. I wanted some of the limelight for myself. I immediately felt bad about myself for admitting this.

I thought about how I might do this. I’m working on a variety of writing projects that I believe will be published. And I’m very excited about them.

But I realized that I wanted not only to get my work out in the world, but that I wanted to get it out to a big audience. Like a really big audience, a platform even bigger than my blog (which more people have read than my decaying academic work.) The blog is fun, but in the grand scheme of the world, it’s still pretty small potatoes.

I mediated about this problem and woke up some morning this week with a very clear thought that seemed like a message from the universe: I was going to start doing public speaking.

Like Moses speaking to the burning bush, I had a million excuses. I didn’t know how. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know what I would even talk about. (And what would I wear?) What problems would I solve for people?  My inner critic sighed loudly and asked again who the hell I thought I was to even think that I had something important enough to say that would justify getting on a stage in front of strangers and subjecting them to my ideas.

But the idea wouldn’t leave me. I did some visualization to try out the idea and give it a test drive. I pictured speaking on a stage in front of a big audience. (I supposed that I’d wear the only suit I own.)  I imagined myself talking about things I cared about: adoption and child welfare, transitions, and trauma. I imagined connecting with the audience and helping them think about things differently. Much to my surprise, my imaginary speaking event inspired and more importantly, kind of thrilled me.

And so now I’m taking my next Flying Leap in front of internet strangers who read my blog: I’m going to start investing my time, efforts, and money in starting a public speaking gig. I’m taking my next Flying Leap. I’m making a webpage for public speaking, writing up some short talks, and telling everyone I know that this is my new Thing. I’m planning to make a demo video soon (which I also don’t know how to do. Wheeee!).

 In the meantime, my Flying Leap into public speaking is starting with talking to scientists about trauma here:

What’s your Flying Leap this week?