Take One Confident Step Off the Edge
My son and I were recently ziplining in the Tongass National Forest outside of Ketchikan. Awesome course.
8 runs through the top of the rainforest canopy.
Some up to 750 feet across the valley.
130 feet off the ground.
Speeds up to 40 miles per hour — especially when the rain started and got the cables wet.
We reached the last platform, which sat 55 feet off the ground.
Then I noticed…
There was no way down. No steps. No ladder.
Our guide explained that the only way down was to jump.
Jump? Jump FIVE stories to the ground?
He demonstrated. He clipped himself to a rope and then said, “Take one confident step off the edge.”
Which he did.
And then the rope — which was on a spring — lowered him safely to the ground.
It was my turn.
I stood on the edge and looked down.
My heart pounded in my throat.
Though the experience wasn’t like the magnitude of stepping out of an airplane (as shown in the photo above), it felt like it would be to me.
The guide coaxed me from below, “Take one confident step off the edge.”
Thankfully, the adrenaline kicked in.
The ride down was awesome.
Innovation Requires One Confident Step Off the Edge
Johannes Gutenberg is a prime example of taking one confident step off the edge. He invented the printing press.
But it wasn’t easy.
First he went through financial failure. He had gone into debt for a business venture that went sour. When the investors asked him to settle the debt, he had no money but promised to share a “secret.”
Most believe this secret was the movable type printing press.
Over the next ten years, he developed and perfected the press and started using it.
He went into more debt in order to build a business off the press. He was sued by one of his investors.
Doesn’t sound like a smooth start, right?
Yet Gutenberg took one confident step off the edge.
And created something that changed the world.
Mark Twain said, “What the world is today, good and bad, it owes to Gutenberg.”
Whatever you are innovating, get ready for setbacks and pushback.
If the success paths of other great creations are a hint of what lies ahead, you can expect to hit obstacles. Many, many obstacles.
Overcoming the obstacles will require as much imagination as your original creation.
You can expect that others won’t understand. They will question and doubt. Though they have good intentions, their efforts may cloud your vision.
You must find creative ways to collaborate with other stakeholders while keeping a bead on your vision.
But most importantly, get started.
Nothing will happen until you take that first confident step off the edge.
And don’t worry if it doesn’t feel very confident.
It’s not really supposed to.
Sometimes You Need a Little Creativity Boost
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I use these exercises to keep the juices flowing — in myself and in my clients. (I am a marketing consultant, after all.)
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