Has this happened to you? You offer an emphatic and impulsive “Yes!” to someone else’s wild hair idea to do something that was likely NOT on your to-do list and never would be.
Such was the case when my brother Grant suggested I join him sky diving on a trip to Oahu. This was years ago, and at that time I was twenty-something and ambitiously curious about the learnings any kind of adventure could offer. I had a mantra that guided my choices: Let’s do this!
That is how I found myself sitting at the front end of a hallowed out twin prop plane in the company of other thrill seekers contemplating the moment the latch to the door was popped open and we were invited to jump. I found a small amount of solace in the fact that I’d enjoy watching my brother go first—which for anyone about to do something that is guaranteed to scare the shit out of you, going first is not the relished position in the lineup.
As it turned out the joke was on me. The Universe placed me as numero uno on the list of People-Willing-to-Risk-Their-Lives-for-an-Expensive-and-Short-Lived-Thrill. As the last body to load up the plane, of course, I would be the first one to jump willingly out of it. Really?! I was beginning to regret my too-easily offered affirmative to my brother’s wild notion of a fun Friday.
And still there was something calling me forth, a kind of energetic pull toward this fast-approaching edge of myself. Why did I say yes to this? I circled back to the nagging resistance in my heart like a vulture pining to peck for morsels of fear.
Heard the pilot shout his affirmative into the cloistered air of the cabin. The guides confirmed their receipt of the message with thumbs up and ear-to-ear shining smiles. This must mean one thing: We’re at altitude. This is go time. My heart skipped a beat. I tried to scan my mind for the exact moment I utter those fateful words to green light what would surely be my last sky-high activity of this sort—that is, if I survive this. The memory was hazy, but there.
The litany of affirmations to refresh my memory ran like ticker tape in my head. “You want this. You got this. Ain’t no thing! If Grant's good, you’re good. He’s not going to kill you.”
And it was the last thought that clicked with me: Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
The only question in life is whether or not you are going to offer a hearty “Yes!” to your adventure. – Joseph Campbell
In the span of a heartbeat, I reconnect with my Why. I am here because I say “Yes!” to living on the edge of my own self-discovery, to finding fresh footing on the terra firma of the expansive ME. I said “Yes!” to my daring brother to honor him and his challenge of me, rising in my own strength to meet his esteem of me. He trusts I can do this without losing my shit or dying, I hope to prove him right.
The door cracks open to the wide, blue sky and pierces the vacuum seal on my thoughts. I am here. The clamor of open-air passages at 10,000 feet is loud and affronting. Jumpsuits signal me to approach the open door. I look behind me for the unlucky bastard up first. There was no one behind me.
I looked over at Grant. His eyes crinkled under his goggles as his grin widens. I feel him tell me from his safe spot at the back of the cabin, “You’re up. You got this.” He is enjoying this. He knows I’m squirming.
Damn! This is not the plan. He should go first. He always goes first. And when we go together, like when we jumped off the 60-foot cliffs near Fallen Leaf Lake, he initiates with the nano-second lead. Why is this time different, I wonder, as I inch closer to the edge of the open door.
I close my eyes and breathe myself present.
I choose to be here. I choose to feel alive to the moments I have. I choose to embrace the unknown and face my fears with the support of those I love.
I am clipped into my tandem partner. Our parachute pack, our clips and the rest of our gear has all checked out. If anything goes wrong, it won’t be for lack of double and triple checking. We are given the go signal. From over my shoulder, my guide shouts out to me, “Ready to jump? Just say the word.”
I can’t recall now what was the word, I just know there was some last signal to communicate to the professionals before tumbling face-forward into the great wide-open, nothingness of sky.
I can still feel my stomach drop when I feel back into those first moments of intentionally cascading out of an open door of an airplane. My toes peeled off the cabin floor and I sailed fully committed to flying body and soul through the sky like a torpedoing peregrine falcon.
The fear was gone. I stormed the island and burned the boats. There was no going back. All there was left to do was sail blissfully through the clear blue sky, over the ocean and toward my new empowered knowledge of all that I am capable of when I just trust my gut and dare to say, “Yes!”
Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go. – T. S. Eliott
What they don’t tell you about skydiving is that breathing through your nose is like drinking water through a firehose—and it stings! I landed alive and filled with a sense of awe. I was tingling from adrenaline. Then I felt loose like a stretched-out rubber band, and crumbled lazily to the ground to watch Grant come in for a landing.
We did it. Done and done. The jump-out-of-an-airplane box is checked. Dare I ask what’s next on the list? I decided to hold off and let the joy of surviving this one sink in.
Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. – Helen Keller
In hindsight, my choice to jump out that plane that fine Friday was a simple one.
The enthusiastic “Yes!” came only after a moment’s hesitation following a quick internal scan of my life’s vision. I found alignment to my values of freedom, adventure, learning, growth and connection. I deeply resonated with the vision of leaping headlong out of a plane and flying like a bird through the sky.
My “Yes!” was to living a life in alignment with my values. The opportunity was a puzzle piece that clicked into perfect place for me within the framework of my life. Although there was resistance to the mortal risk inherit to the activity, I was able to override the fear by reconnecting to why I was choosing this for myself in the first place.
From where I sit today, sipping cold coffee on a beautiful spring day at a coffee shop in Bend, Oregon, I wonder back to the emphatic and enthusiastic Yes’s I have doled out over the decades of my life.
How many were worth the electrified “Yes!”?
What was my process for quality assessment?
When should my eager Yes’s been big fat No’s?
Now the question I offer my clients is this:
What are the boundaries we need to create and reinforce to protect the space we want in our lives for more soul-inspiring, heart-bursting, enthusiastic and emphatic Yes’s?
From a Wavering to Soaring “Yes!”
I do not regret my choice to jump into the great wide open. How could I? I did it and lived to tell the tale! I am grateful I made the choice with my heart, aware of what it would mean to me to experience such a daring leap of faith.
Not all choices are as resonate with my values; not all support what I need to live my best life. Sometime you take a risk and say yes to the unknown to learn about new boundaries necessary.
Here are three steps to getting clear on creating boundaries that serve to honor and protect what matters most to you.
First know that boundaries are all about making conscious choices between what to say “No way” to and what you are answering with a big, fat “Hell yeah!” A boundary is the gate that keeps the junk out—anything that does not serve your highest vision for your life or support your greatest desire, that which you value above all else.
Boundaries + Values
Boundaries protect and honor what is most important to us in our lives, such as our values.
Values are who and what we care most about, our beliefs, our way of being. Values are the unique expression of our identity; like fingerprints, no two people are the same. Our values are expressed through our behaviors.
3 Actions to Take to Create Boundaries that Serve
1. Develop self-awareness by listening to the voice of your truth.
Pay attention to the messages offered by your body. Notice resistance when it shows up. Get curious about any hesitation to act.
Give yourself space to explore the questions that bubble up as you are weighing your choices.
Visualize yourself taking the action and notice if the vision is clear or cloudy. Imagine how you will feel when the action is complete.
Ask yourself, what of my values am I honoring by offering a “Yes!” to this choice?
2. Discern how your behaviors are enabling your boundaries to fail to support as they should.
You can only control your own choices and behavior. Look to the choices you are making to find opportunities to hone your actions toward better supporting your great wants and needs, the values you live by.
Begin with you. Honor your high vision for what is possible when you are disciplined, committed and focused to live your best life in your truth.
3. Create accountability structures that support you to avoid or rebound from quickly when you feel stretched, pressed and pooped.
Help is there when we ask for it. We are not alone in our quest to want more for ourselves and our chances for success grow exponentially when we reach out and share what we need with others in our circle of trusted friends and family.
Chances are those peeps want to do whatever they can to support you to be your best, happiest, most fulfilled self. It’s a win-win.
And that’s it! Three easy little steps to keep you on track with you. I don’t want you to ever feel like a cornered cat hissing expletives to yourself in the middle of living out your latest choice to overcommit yourself with a “Yes” that should have been a “No.”
Inquiries to ponder . . .
What choices are before you?
What are the boundaries you need to shore up in your life? Consider big areas of your life: Family, work, friends, exercise, daily routines, love life, etc.?
What values are not being honored as you would like? What boundaries can you shore up to better support the space living into these values deserves?
Need an accountability partner to strengthen your resolve? Not sure what are the high heights you're aiming for with your high vision? Fuzzy on what are your core values, the ones the measure of a day well spent is gauged?
Find out how coaching can support you to live into your fullest potential and have a blast doing it. Reach out today!
More about Katie
Katie is dedicated to calling out greatness in women. As a leadership coach and consultant, she relishes diving in with women who are curious and courageous, daring to set a course for change with a compelling vision and open heart. Her style is rooted in a vibrant curiosity, an upbeat energy, and a fierce commitment to transformation. Committed to living a life that honors her values of meaningful connection and creative expression, she invites women to live in alignment to core values with a purpose that makes the heart sing. She has developed a company, Co-Elevate Coaching + Consulting, that honors her belief that we are all leaders of our own lives, learning how to grow ourselves and support the growth of others. She is a graduate from the University of Colorado, holds a Masters in Literature and is continuing to integrate the learnings of the previous two careers as a High School English Teacher and as a Marketing Executive in her current full-time role as (CTI-trained) leadership coach. She splits her time working with individuals and teams in Bend, Oregon and the San Francisco Bay Area. She lives in Bend, Oregon with her husband Brent, and two kiddos and one big bernedoodle.