I lived in New Zealand for a few years, just before the turn of the 21st century. It was not a place that I knew much about prior to going there to live and work. I had heard about the country as one of our West Indian cricket team’s major opponents, but it was bungy jumping into change that would become my defining memory of New Zealand.
That was my first big change right there. Travelling upside down! ????
Trinidad, my birth country, lies 10.5 degrees north of the Equator. New Zealand lies 40.9 degrees south of the Equator! That is a very long way to travel. I always wondered who would ever go there and how long it would take, if they ever arrived.
In 1996, I landed on New Zealand soil in Christchurch, South Island. Although I never thought that I would ever get there, the years I spent there were profound and life-changing. New Zealand is a sporting country, extreme sports to be exact, and while there, bungy jumping and I developed a very intimate relationship.
I was a person in deep transition at the time and bungy jumping taught me many lessons about embracing change and taking risks. When I left New Zealand to return to the land of my birth, I was a re-baptised professional.
Fear Of Change Is Paralyzing
I recall my first bungy jump like it was yesterday. We arrived at the jump point over the gorge at around 4:30 p.m. and they were preparing to shut down at 5:00 p.m. I was the last jumper for the day. It took about 15 minutes to get strapped up in the safety harness and stand at the jump site overlooking the gorge.
To say that I was petrified was putting it mildly. I cannot remember if my heart was still beating as I stood there looking towards the horizon and I was freezing, probably because my blood had stopped flowing through my body. I am sure that I was dead because I did not here the guy assisting me telling me that if I did not jump in 2 minutes, he would have to unstrap me.
So many thoughts ran through my mind including the fact that I must have been mad to even conceive doing this! Suddenly, as though as magic, I felt myself jerk out of the frozen state that I had been in. I could hear again and someone was counting down for me to jump. I realised where I was and why I was there. This was MY decision. This is what I SAID I wanted to do. This is what I had PAID to do.
As I looked to my left across the bridge, I could see a group of people watching me and cheering me on. It suddenly hit me that if I did not jump I would have to face those people as a failure. How could I do that? I would not be setting a good example.
That group of people gave me the final push (no pun intended) that I needed to eventually jump. At 4:56 p.m. on that fateful day, I leaped off the bridge over the gorge and took my first bungy jump into change.
That jump became my anthem for change. When you think about it carefully, you soon realise that it also teaches you to manage risk and people like a pro.
Assess Your Risk Carefully
The bigger the change, the more risk is involved. The higher the risk the more you stand to lose – or gain – if you fail – or succeed. It is important to prepare well and assess the risks that you are taking with the utmost care.
The graphic reality with bungy jumping is that if you do not assess your risk properly and ensure that your safety measures are superb, you could die. There is no point of return from that.
Think for a moment about change in the context of a new relationship. You meet someone for the first time and blindly walk into the relationship with no further thought than your first encounter. You quickly leave your network behind and jump in head first giving your all only to reach a point where things are not going as you thought they would. With your safety nets (friends and hobbies) out of reach, you start to panic and wonder about your recovery.
So often we thoughtlessly put ourselves through change without careful planning or preparation. There is no consideration given to what will happen if things do not go as planned.
- What if it does not work out?
- Can you recover?
- Will you have the support you need to get you through and help you pick up the pieces?
These are fundamental and important questions when assessing risk and considering change in your life.
Change Can Be Violent
Change can be very strong and that strength can play itself out violently, either inside or outside of us depending on how we manage it. Unmanned change brings distress and each persons handles this differently.
Some are able to talk about what they are experiencing or expecting, many are not. Still, many would prefer not to have to deal with anything that takes them away from the norms to which they are accustomed.
As I stood on the edge of the deck all suited up and harnessed waiting to jump, I froze. I actually felt frozen and stiff and could not move. The fear that possessed my body during those few moments (that felt like a lifetime) was so intense that I thought I was going to implode. I did not know what to do.
On the inside, change can result in violent and irreversible damage to our health, well-being and bodies. Many illnesses are said to be caused by distress and our inability to manage ourselves out of situations.
Experiences such as a bad boss, a loss of job, the loss of a loved one, changing jobs, moving to another country, all create fear and the risk of an unknown or unmanageable outcome. If these experiences are allowed to build up without being addressed, they will eventually cause us to explode mentally, emotionally or physically.
Being aware of ourselves and the impact of our environment, experiences thoughts and emotions is critical when addressing change. Being proactive will ensure that we do not move ourselves or others into a realm of destructiveness but rather, into a change cycle that is positively engaging and uplifting.
Our Experiences Help Others
It is said that the best way to teach or help someone else is to walk the road yourself. This is especially true when dealing with change and the risks associated. We are all human beings and regardless of race, colour, ethnicity, gender or country we have similar experiences and ways of managing.
Having walked the road of change, you are in a much better place to role reverse and empathise with another. This makes it easier for you to assist them and support their growth and development.
So, embrace change! Take your time to assess our risks and understand the effects of the possible outcomes. Pay close attention to how your changes will impact the people around you and provide them with the understanding and help that may need.
Then, bungy jump into change and enjoy the view and the wind on your face as you bask in the glory of a different and rejuvenating experience. I guarantee that your courage rank will also take a leap upwards and that your life will never be the same.
Do you want to become a better Change Agent?
Then join our Mailing List, leave us a comment, like and follow us on Social Media and follow our Founder’s journey. Join the thousands around the world who have benefited from our learning and management interventions.