“It’s a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you’re ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There is almost no such thing as ready. There is only now. And you may as well do it now. Generally speaking, now is as good a time as any.” – Hugh Laurie
I still remember the first time I went on a zipline. It was in Catalina. The person in charge of safety asked me as I was standing on the launch pad “Are you ready?” I looked down somewhat terrified, then turned to her and said “No.” Then I let go; I plunged into the thrilling experience of falling into the abyss (or so it seemed at the time). Later on we laughed about it as the person at the landing pad said I looked extremely happy on my ride down. I don’t particularly remember it well; just that it was fast, exhilarating and it gave me an adrenaline rush. Maybe that’s why I was smiling the entire way down.
But the truth was I wasn’t ready to leap, I wasn’t ready to let go, I just figured since I was there, I might as well do it. Before the zipline adventure and after it, there have been many times when I was faced with the question of whether I was ready or not to do something. While there have been times when I knew for sure I was ready, other times when I was convinced I wasn’t, more often than not, I just didn’t know, I just had this gut feeling that I needed to do it, that I needed those 20 seconds of courage or as Benjamin Mee said in We Bought A Zoo “You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.”
Here’s what I learned in all these instances of not waiting for the right time, of making the right time for me and having the courage to follow my heart:
- There’s always a split second in which I know if it’s a good idea to move forward or not. It happens to me with both people and situations. I have this flash of understanding in which I know without a doubt whether that person belongs in my life or that decision is a good one. There have been many times when I have chosen to disregard this flash of intuition and things never turned out good when I did. And there have been times when I decided to trust it and things always turned out for the best.
- There’s never really a perfect time. There are moments that are better than others, but every moment has its benefits and its drawbacks. The important thing is to be in a frame of mind where you’re just willing to step out of your comfort zone. Not ready, but willing.
- Willingness not readiness. It’s not about being ready, as Hugh Laurie said, we’re never really ready, it’s about being willing. And if you’re willing to take that leap of faith, you’re half way there.
- It’s ok to doubt yourself as long as you don’t let doubt take over. There have been plenty of times when I doubted the circumstances, or myself so many moments when I just wasn’t sure. But doubt was good because it made me push further and try to find a solution, it kept me in check during the times when all I wanted was to get it over with.
- Take a second, but no more. “Postponing the onset of the decision process by as little as 50 to 100 milliseconds enables the brain to focus attention on the most relevant information and block out irrelevant distractors,” researcher Jack Grinband, PhD, said in a statement in 2014.
There have been amazing things that have come out of those 20 seconds of courage and out of understanding that now is as good a time as any to start something amazing and I’ve also learned to recognize when and where I should take that leap of faith. Science tells us that our body knows the answers before our mind catches up and if we learn to listen to our bodies, then we can easily make better decisions just like Malcolm Gladwell describes it in Blink, one of my favorite all time books.