I remember one winter morning in 2016 after dropping my daughter off at school, I drove to work listening to the Steve Harvey Morning Show. Steve had just published his book, Jump, and he took callers who like myself wanted to make changes in their life but were held back by fear and doubt. I distinctly remember his exchange with a male caller, who wanted to start his own business. The caller asked Steve what if he made this move, “jumped,” and it turned out to be a mistake. Steve then countered and asked him this question. “What if you do nothing. What’s going to happen?” The caller thought for a minute and then answered, “Nothing.” Steve then asked him, “What if you jump. What’s going to happen?” The caller answered, “Something.”
That exchange changed my mindset. Like the caller, “what if,” held me back. See, as I drove to a job that didn’t challenge me, with no medical benefits, that barely paid the bills, my daughter and I were homeless. We were staying with my mother and brother in her two-bedroom apartment. It wasn’t that I didn’t have ambition. Long ago, I had an idea for a business and had even gone so far as to meet with mentors from SCORE who thought it was a great idea. What I had was fear and doubt. How could I as a single mother justify taking this risk?
Before that call, I had a one-dimensional view of failure. Steve helped me to see that the simple act of jumping guaranteed a change. If I jumped, something was going to happen. That changed my view of failure. I reframed it not as an indictment of a lack of character or ambition, but as a learning experience. In a prior job as a software tester, part of the job was to try and break the software so the developers could learn how to make the product better. When I presented the results of my tests, they didn’t sit around and beat themselves up, and they didn’t continually rehash their past mistakes; they took what they learned along the way and used it to make the product better.
The seeds planted in that call led to a series of “baby jumps” for me. While staying with my mom, my brother encouraged me to go back to school for my degree. My first words to him were, “I’m 50.” I couldn’t imagine sitting in a classroom with kids more than half my age. Could I even keep up? But I did. I started Brookdale Community College in February 2016, and I’ve made the Dean’s List each semester. School provided me with the knowledge to put my dreams into action. It gave me options. In March 2016, my daughter and I moved into an apartment. Our goal is to own our own home. In February 2017, I lost my job. I’d searched for a job for months, until in August, I decided that instead of waiting for opportunities to come to me, I’d go out and find them. In that month, BRL Business Solutions, my business was born.
Jumping isn’t the whole process; it’s only the first step. Once you jump – take that leap of faith – doors open. Perhaps not as fast as you wish or in the way you plan, but they do. You meet people, are exposed to ideas, and you begin to see options. The opportunities are there. But don’t kid yourself, jumping is hard work and requires continuous, consistent effort. That will sound familiar if you’ve read the January Editor’s Letter.
Speaking of which, did you take the challenge? Were you able to dismiss your negative thoughts? For me, writing them down and deleting them, did not have as much effect as seeing the negative thought and positive one together. Seeing the negative with the positive makes me want to continue to go forward; especially on the days when I feel like I’m just treading water or running in circles. Positive reinforcement gives me the strength to continue to dream; although present circumstances may make it seem irrational. There are so many lessons in both Steve Harvey’s and Sharon Lechter’s books. The most important one for me is this: Dreams must lead to action. They require a plan for achievement. Once you have a plan, commit to doing something each day, no matter how small, to accomplish your goals. Remember, baby jumps set you up for a big jump.
“Some of us are scared to take the jump. We’re fearful because we don’t know how it will turn out. Guess what? Every day you wake up, you don’t know how it will work out. That’s the exciting part about life. Don’t think for a moment that successful people don’t have fears. Acknowledge your fear and move forward. Fear is there to let you know that what you are taking on is worth your risking your current lifestyle.” (Introduction to Jump, by Steve Harvey, xx-xxi)