Thursday, April 21, 2011

Saying Yes: The Lesson I Learned When Falling From 10,000 Feet

For those of you who know me well, I think you could attest to the fact that I am a pretty conservative guy. I suppose you could also say that participating in extreme sports is pretty out of character for me. In fact, growing up in Nebraska, I was one of the few boys in my neighborhood that did not play football (not that football is an extreme sport). Part of my lack of participation stemmed from my Mother’s fear of my injury and the other was that I was a lanky and awkward pre-teen.

So two weeks ago when a close friend asked me to go jump out of a plane to celebrate his birthday my default response would have normally been to tell him to go take a hike. But for some reason, this time I said yes.

Now don’t get me wrong, I immediately wanted to back out, I was scared. Being the realist that I am, I was instantly thinking about all the possible ways that jumping out of an airplane with a glorified backpack strapped to my body could go wrong – if there was a terrible outcome, I thought of it. But for some reason I still showed up for the two hour car ride to the air strip.

To make a very long story short, when we were cruising at 10,000 feet and the door of the airplane opened I realized that if I had simply said no I wouldn’t be jumping out of a plane with hopes of my parachute opening. Even during the first three seconds of free fall I was seriously questioning my judgment of the whole scenario.

But then it happened...

After a few seconds of sheer terror when I let myself fall from the security of the airplane; I entered into one of the most breath-taking and memorable experiences of my life. Words cannot describe what 45 seconds of free-fall feels like. There are probably only a few things that are as insane and as memorable as falling with no restraint at 120 miles per hour. And that is when I realized that I would not have experienced all of this if I hadn’t said Yes.

I am sure a few of you are curious where my skydiving story fits into personal finance.

SkydivingOften I force myself to slow down and see the “forest through the trees”. It is so easy to get stymied in the day to day requirements of starting a business and even just every day life! I have to remind myself to remember the big picture and enjoy the ride.

Accumulating and preserving wealth is the same way. Saving and living within your means is not accomplished with a short burst of effort, it’s accomplished over a lifetime. It’s easy to get bogged down while you are diligently stashing away your hard earned dollars for the future. If you aren’t careful it is easy to slip into scrooge mode and become a hoarder that no one wants to hang out with. And that is why you have to enjoy the ride.

We all need to say Yes to opportunities along the way!

Saying yes for some of you might be as simple as allowing yourself to occasionally take the family out to eat instead of cooking at home. For others it’s going on a family vacation or upgrading the home television. Saying yes will be different for all of us but the point is to allow yourself to do it.

If I had not said yes to jumping out of a plane I would have missed out on a great story and a memory that will last a life time. Make sure that you are not missing out on great stories and memories – Say Yes to opportunities!