What Happened Afterward Was the Clincher
"If you do not conquer self, you will be conquered by self." ~ Napoleon Hill
I pick my racehorses because of their names. I do the same thing when filling out my March Madness bracket, choosing the teams by the names that I like. Believe or not, I actually won the office pool one year by doing just that. I have an affinity for Jayhawks and Wildcats, so there you go! Names and titles inspire me.
So, when it came to choosing a challenge on the Ropes Course, I saw “Leap of Faith” on the list and jotted my name down without even thinking about it. Then, I asked which was the hardest one, and the woman said, “You just signed up for it.”
Now, if you know me, you know this is not like me. At all. I don’t normally do hard physical challenges that could put my life in danger, as a rule.
But, I was there, at the women’s weekend retreat Campowerment, to push past my own personal boundaries, to dig deep and move beyond where I’ve been, so I wrote my name on the line next to: “Leap of Faith.”
What exactly is a Leap of Faith?
Various definitions include, “an act of believing in or attempting something whose existence or outcome cannot be proved.”
Or “an act of believing something that is not easily believed,”
Or, “to do or believe in something or someone even when the circumstances are not visible or touchable.”
Or, “to jump from, to, over and/or on an object that's at certain distinctive distance and height.”
This particular leap of faith started simply as the last one. I was to climb to the top of a 30-foot pole and attempt to stand on top before jumping for a trapeze bar hanging a few feet away.
But, it quickly became a stunning breakthrough that shone a light in all areas of my life.
WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF?
The leap started when I made the decision. I had no idea what I was getting into. I just decided to trust and go for it. So, I showed up at the Ropes Course at the allotted time.
As soon as I saw other women scaling the pole and struggling to stand up, I mean really struggle, I began looking for excuses not to do it. “I broke my wrist a few months ago,” “I get vertigo,” “I don’t like heights.” Suddenly, I was so sick of those voices in my head that are so bloody brilliant at coming up with excuses. So, I escorted them off the premises and joined the support team on the ground, cheering on the women and prepping my psyche for what was to come.
There was really was no way to prep. The coach, whose name was Zen, was on the ground with words of encouragement all through the process. He asked me, “What are you afraid of?” I told him I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to balance. I’m out of balance. Whoa.
He said, “Trust your balance.” Okay.
After a relatively easy climb, until I reached the top and realized, without anything to grab onto, I had only my own lower body strength to rely on to hoist myself up.
And, I thought, there is absolutely 100% no way I can do this. I was completely stuck, hunched over the top of a telephone pole in the middle of a field tucked in the mountains of Malibu, California. But, the thought of the pretty picture I struck was the furthest thing from my mind.
Zen asked, “What are you afraid of? Say it out loud.”
I said, “I don’t think I have the strength in my legs to lift me up to the top.” He repeated it and acknowledged it and said, “Okay let’s think about something else. What do you want to do next?”
After a moment I said, “Put my right foot on top of the pole.”
“What’s there now?” he asked.
“My thumb,” I said.
“Okay, just look at your thumb and only your thumb. Don’t think about anything but your thumb.”
I have to say I don’t think I’ve ever focused so fully on one single thing, my thumb, and only my right thumb, which was pressed so flat and hard I thought I might leave a dent.
And, then as if it had a will of it’s own, my right foot stepped up and replaced my thumb. It felt like a huge victory. It was a solid footing.
So, I’ve got one foot on top and the other is glued to the rung on the side of the pole. At that point I thought; I’m good. I hit a wall and thought; I’m kind of done. I can’t go any further but I’m okay with that because I’ve gone further than I thought I would. If I just let go now, I’m okay with that.
That’s when something happened. The wall that I hit became transparent. The wall melted away and I could see the other side.
Just a glimpse of what it would feel and look like to stand on that doggone pole. So, I refocused.
It took everything in me, literally everything between mind and body, to lift and place the other foot on the 9-inch surface.
I stood up, albeit rather wobbly, but finally balanced and sturdy. I yelled, “I’m balanced.” Actually, I said, "I'm f*^king balanced," because I was blown away by how much I'd gotten caught up in the story of being out of balance, of not trusting my balance. Thank you, Zen!
I spread my arms and look out at the horizon over the Pacific Ocean.
JUST REACH FOR IT
Coach Zen said, “Don’t look at the horizon. Keep focused on what’s next.”
And, “next” was to jump off the top of my pole, where I’d become quite comfortable, leaping to catch the hanging trapeze bar. And, it looked far.
‘What are you going to do?” Zen asked.
“I’m going to reach for it.”
The awesome women on the ground gave me a countdown. And I leapt.
And, I caught it. Whoop. A sure hard grip. No residuals of the former broken wrist.
JUST THE NEXT STEP
When I was back on the ground, Zen asked me, “How’d you do it?”
“Just the next step,” I said, no hesitation. It was so simple, even when it was hard. I was elated; in a pure joy of knowing I could do something I seriously didn’t think was possible in the moment.
Just the next step meant pushing past the best of my last best.
My dad just to tell my sister and I, when we were up against something we were afraid of, or were challenged by, he said, “Mind over matter.”
Mind over matter. I finally got it. Just the next step was mind over matter. Will over substance. Not letting anything cloud or hinder what was next. Just the next step, and then just the next step.
It felt huge and expansive.
WITH EXPANSION COMES CONTRACTION, THEN INTEGRATION
The major high lasted for a few days. Entering back into pedestrian life after a breakthrough can be tricky. You want the expansion to last and it can be hard to understand why it doesn’t, why you might feel a little sad, or all you want to do is take a nap.
I kind of crashed. And, I listened to others who were having a similar experience after their breakthroughs from the weekend, and there were a lot of breakthroughs. Some called it backlash.
Then, I remembered.
It’s completely natural to contract after a major expansion. In fact, it’s necessary during the integration process.
That’s when it hit me. The integration that takes place afterward, after the leap, after the breakthrough, is the most important part. And, contraction is a vital to integration. The backlash is the contraction.
Developing strong integration skills means understanding the contraction is part of the process. It’s important to embrace the contraction as a key phase in moving forward at the higher level you found when you took the leap.
The contraction is there to allow yourself to catch up, to take a breath, a pause, to fully incorporate the new mindset, the new feelings in your body, the new energy that wants to course through you. It gives the whole of you a chance to say, “Hold on, I want this and I need a moment – or a few – to sit in all of this bigness, this knowing that I’ve got this.”
A healthy reframe of contraction is to think of it as a pause. It may feel kind of icky and stuck, but it’s a pause so you can fully step in and inhabit the expansion.
In the past, I’ve been undone and done-in by the contraction phase, to the point where it’s stopped me, where it felt like stumbling backwards. But, this time, it didn’t last very long. I’ve done a ton of integrating the last several years, and have made it an integral part of my own evolution as a human being.
It was the leap, the leap of faith that was a culmination in which everything led up to that moment, that self-trust to move beyond what was before. It felt like the graduation to the next grade, to the PhD level of life mastery.
I thought the leap would be the victory, but it was just the beginning.
The full experience is to push through your limit and then to fully integrate the lessons learned from the expansions and contractions. Those lead to the next step up or leap where the process starts all over again.
Since Camp and the leap, I’ve noticed that I’ve moved forward. I’ve completed more things. I’ve put down over 50,000 words on my book. I’ve launched a new program. I’m written a lot more articles, and published them. I’ve made new connections and I feel my current relationships becoming more honest, deeper.
I feel different but the same. I feel the same but different.
I’m bolder while at the same time becoming gentler, more real.
It came at the right time in my growth, education, evolution. Unpeeling, unfolding to what's coming next.
THE THREE THINGS AGAIN
This breaks the leap or breakthrough down into three steps or phases.
- A leap starts to happen by taking Just the Next Step. Laser focus on just the next move, eye of the target, not the horizon. Nothing else matters in that moment. Nothing.
- To leap – Just Reach For It. Push past the best of your last best.
- Integrate – that’s the most important part of a breakthrough experience. It’s alchemical to integrate. Allow yourself to catch up. The actual change happens during integration, not during the leap itself.
A leap is a breakthrough. It ups your ante. Embrace it. Every time.
“There are many talented people who haven't fulfilled their dreams because they over thought it, or they were too cautious, and were unwilling to make the leap of faith.” James Cameron