I’m looking up at a lighthouse with a set of rungs leading to a door-shaped perch about 50 feet above the sea and discussing with my dear friend Steve Showalter whether we should climb up and jump.
We weigh the pro and cons:
- It will be fun and make a great story.
- I’m wearing a bathing suit (he’s wearing shorts).
- The weather is perfect.
- The water is calm.
- We have a camera so someone can record it.
- We can’t think of any.
So just as I am about to jump in and start swimming toward the lighthouse, I think “WAIT! … ROCKS!”. I ask Eric “Are there any rocks out there that I could hit?” He and his childhood friend Ryan Staszko ensure us that it is safe and they’ve jumped many times (albeit years ago while in High School).
I’m still skeptical and Ryan goes ahead and leads the way. Without hesitation, he swims over, climbs up and jumps right in.
Now, there’s nothing that can stop me. I head toward the stern and am about to get in the water when Steve says “But, we don’t have any towels”. I stop dead in my tracks. No towels? No towels? He’s right. How are we going to dry off? I look over at Ryan whose now back on the boat and dripping wet.
If we do this thing, it will be a cold, uncomfortable ride back. Steve and I look at each other. We look at Ryan again. Nah!
As Eric starts back to the dock, a whirlwind of thoughts crosses my mind. I can’t believe that I didn’t jump. Over a towel? When I was younger, mild discomfort never stopped me. In fact, it never entered the equation. Am I getting THAT old? Steve summed it up best for both us “What were we thinking?”.
The next day, I got even more introspective. Have I gotten too stagnant in my company? What opportunities am I missing so I can stay warm and cozy?
The business world is rampant with stories of successful companies that got out-maneuvered due to complacency. Think Blockbuster by Netflix, or Virgin Records by iTunes. I certainly don’t want that to happen to me. Simply put, there are risks in business that need to be taken even if they involve discomfort. In fact, almost all change involves discomfort.
Since this experience, I’ve using my regrets about not jumping off the lighthouse to bring a renewed and healthy sense of adventure to my business (and life). I’m planning some major changes this year and not having a towel won’t be standing in my way!