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29

Jump In

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Age, wisdom and experience provide many valuable leadership lessons in the business world. We learn to manage the downside and protect our assets. A conservative approach reduces the risks and ensures that a safety net is available to protect us from a dangerous fall. There are definitely times to be cautious and tentative. There are others when it pays to aggressively jump in with two feet.

As a young boy, my family enjoyed long weekends at my grandparent’s cottage on the St. Clair River near Port Huron, Michigan. My brother and sister and I stood on the dock each spring and I would encourage them to follow me into the freezing water. I never hesitated to take that first plunge of the season into the swift current and arctic like tempratures. My siblings were not far behind. I loved the thrill of jumping into the frigid river and swimming like a young Mark Spitz to make it safely to the shore. My teeth were chattering and goose bumps covered my body. I couldn’t wait to repeat the circuit as soon as my feet hit dry land.

Ten years later, I had lost my enthusiasm for my spring swimming adventures and I preferred to stay dry and warm on the dock. The water was freezing and I had no desire to feel like an iceberg in the North Sea. Age and maturity made me cautious and maybe a bit smarter too. I was more concerned with the water temperature than the incredibly refreshing experience I felt as a child. The water had not changed—I had!

There a several important lessons that we can learn from the enthusiasm of a ten year old child.

1. Make a Splash – Remember the tentative moments before you entered a cold lake or jumped off the high dive at the local pool as a kid. A bold and aggressive move was never regretted. Make a strong statement with decisive action in your life.

2. Go For It – Kids have fun and they welcome their next adventure with excitement and a smile on their face. Embrace your next project with a youthful exuberance. Life can become boring and mundane if we never change our approach.

3. Build Team Spirit – Playmakers add fun and spontaneity to their teams. If the leader takes a confident dive, the rest will follow. Go-getters do not sit on the dock. They are catalysts that inspire the others to take a leap.

My spring time plunges into the chilly waters of the St. Clair River could have qualified me as a member of the Polar Bear Club and serve as a reminder that we should not hesitate to get off the dock and jump-in.

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