We’ve all heard the famous John Burroughs quote, “[l]eap and the net shall appear.”
The phrase implies that you will not free fall if you take a chance and risk grave consequences to achieve success. Instead, you will be caught by a net, or some sort of saving grace, that will propel toward the success you seek and let you know that leaping was worth it.
We love this quote because it feels good to think of ourselves as the type of people who are willing to risk it all in service of a dream.
That type of person is brave. She is principled. She achieves success, and we want that too.
But that’s where our love affair with this quote ends.
Despite all of the good feelings associated with its sentiment, deep down, most adults don’t really believe this quote is anything more than an optimistic phrase.
It’s something we tell our children to encourage them to dive off a diving board or try a new sport, but we don’t necessarily believe that it has any application in real, adult life unless you are an actress or performer.
The Truth About Taking Leaps And Preparation
In fact, modern culture seems to tell us that if we research thoroughly and acquire as much education and information as possible before we do anything, we can avoid leaping entirely.
We can also avoid failure. And isn’t that what education and information are supposed to do—protect us from having to take grave risks or face failures in our quest for success?
If more preparation, education, and information were all that was needed for success, then we wouldn’t have so many unhappy professionals today.
Research shows that 57% of all professional working adults are unhappy at work. And when it comes to legal professionals, that number is even higher.
When Too Much Information = Standing Still
When we attempt to over-research and educate ourselves to minimize risks before we take action, we are actually delaying the change we seek. Instead, we are engaging in a form of feel-good productivity that makes it seem like we are moving forward when we’re actually standing still.
As Steven Pressfield noted in his book Do the Work:
Our enemy is not lack of preparation; it’s not the difficulty of the project, or the state of the marketplace, or the emptiness of our bank account. The enemy is our chattering brain, which, if we give it so much as a nanosecond, will start producing excuses, alibis, transparent self-justifications, and a million reasons why we can’t/shouldn’t/won’t do what we know we need to do.
In other words, the question of whether you are ready to make a change in your career is a ruse. You’ve been ready. You already know that. The question is, will you do something about it or make another excuse.
If you decide to take a chance and leap into the unknown, you learn that you can trust yourself to deal with the struggles that are sure to come your way. It’s also how you’ll learn that you can survive the feeling of falling and come out on the other side.
Then you will see that “the net” that John Burroughs described in his quote was there all along, even into your adult life.
Because the net that has always been there to catch you is you.
Need a little more proof that you are ready for a change? Read this post on the 7 Reasons You Aren’t Leaving Your Job (And Why Those Reasons Are B.S.)
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