Saturday, September 29, 2012

How to Bypass Fear and Take Action

I hurried into the water park, my family trailing behind me. I had to get a glimpse of it. There she stood in all her glory. Ten stories high. 400-feet long. The Scorpion's Tail, America's first nearly vertical, water slide loop at Noah's Ark water park. You stand on a platform in an enclosed tube, and suddenly the bottom drops out and sends you plummeting down at more than 50-feet per second with enough force to send you through a loop.
No warming up to it by starting off with smaller rides, no standing at the bottom and analyzing it to see if it still seemed like a good idea, no lame excuses about it being a little too chilly to be at a water park that day.
Conveniently, because it was a little chilly that day, there wasn't a line and I could hurry through zigzagging path. It was a bit unnerving to read the warning sign that described what to do if you got stuck in the middle of the loop. "That can't possibly happen, right?" I began climbing the steps, going up and up and up. I finally got to the top and was directed to step on a scale. Really? On vacation, I don't really want to be reminded of my weight. (Apparently, you have to be heavy enough so make it to the top of the loop, but I guess, not so heavy that you get stuck somewhere in the enclosed tube.) The ride operator opens a door and I step into what seems like shower stall (an enclosed tube with transparent walls so everyone can see me), lean against the back wall, and watch the door close. Over a speaker, I hear a countdown, "3, 2... " and suddenly the floor drops out from under me and I scream as I free fall and shoot through loop and come whooshing out the other end. Oh yeah!
It was fantastic. A moment of sheer terror and then a rush of satisfaction.
What made it easy is that once I was there standing on the platform, I didn't need to think. The floor just dropped out and I fell. The only thinking I had to do what to decide that I was going to do this. I was able to stop thinking as soon as I found the entrance to the ride and started down the path. Turning off my thinking brain made it almost effortless, except of course for climbing all those stairs!
My lesson learned? Turn off my thinking brain more often. Many times I just need to decide what I want to do, commit to it and begin, without any more thought. Let the activity itself guide me and then just keep taking the next step. Stop thinking along the way, or else I just might talk myself out of a brilliant idea. Just take action. Period. The thrill of the ride outweighs the sting of regret.

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