Are you ready to jump – or will you wait to be pushed?

A diving board from Future Perfect and Portfolio Executives

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It’s a scenario facing many of us at some point in our lives. We want to make a decision but something holds us back. Will caution or fear stop us making that move  – or will we jump and discover it was well worth the risk?

I remember an incident from my childhood when I jumped off the highest board in the swimming pool, only to land with an excruciating belly flop. What do I remember most? It wasn’t the pleasure of the free-fall or the encouragement of others around me. It was the satisfaction of knowing I did it, despite the fear – although it did hurt a bit when I landed. Since then I have always chosen to jump before I am pushed.

Will irrational fear hold you back?

Many of the senior professionals I meet have a similar growing level of discomfort about what is going on in their working lives. They know that there must be something better, but perhaps there is that niggle in the back of their minds about the metaphorical belly flop – or even if they can make the jump at all. It prevents them seeing the rewards beyond.

If you are one of those people imagining that jumping from a great height will inevitably end in disaster, then I would encourage you to go beyond the irrational fear. The reality is you’ve almost certainly jumped before – and made a success of it.

I am sure that you can find other parts of your life where you have chosen to step out into some kind of future, where that future was uncertain. Whether it was your first child, your marriage, that first job or that big promotion.

You’ve jumped before, you can again

So, go back and look at the successes you have had where you have stepped out of your comfort zone. Go back and remind yourself where that step, which might have felt brave, foolhardy or risky at the time, paid off.

As a successful experienced professional, you are used to logically assessing different options. Some may have appeared to be beyond your immediate capability but you took them. So, when it comes to your next career decision, why not re-live what you did, how you made that decision?

The pain associated with change can be crippling, but the cost and consequences of inaction can be far worse.

Who’s waiting to push you?

One option is to stay where you are. You don’t have to jump. But what if someone else is on that diving board behind you? Maybe they want their turn, they’ll push you anyway.

So, if you don’t assess the alternatives to staying where you are, you are risking being pushed by others. The decision to jump won’t have been made on your terms. It’s a scenario that won’t serve yourself or your family, or the people who care for you to the best.

Is your current situation as safe as you think?

I spent many years regularly meeting a colleague who I had worked in a business with in the mid-nineties. We had moved on to go our separate ways and he had this desire to be an entrepreneur. He had this desire to take control of his own destiny but each time I met him he was so wedded to the safety of his current situation that he reminded me of that classic frog.

You may know the story – the frog who is sitting in a puddle of water and slowly the water warms up and because the temperature is rising so gently, he never realises that he should have leapt out before he boils to death. Don’t be that frog!

Ready to leap?

So, is 2019 the year in which you are going to prepare to leap? The year in which you are going to create a new future for yourself? Or the year in which you are going to continue to settle for the status quo and not choose to explore the opportunities verses the costs of staying where you are?

If you are thinking about your career options, becoming a Portfolio Executive could provide you with a rewarding and stimulating future – and on your terms. If you like the sound of working with a group of people who have successfully made that jump (and landed successfully), then check out our Portfolio Executive programme.


Charles McLachlan is the founder of FuturePerfect and on a mission to transform the future of work and business. The Portfolio Executive programme is a new initiative to help executives build a sustainable and impactful second-half-career. Creating an alternative future takes imagination, design, organisation and many other thinking skills. Charles is happy to lend them to you.