This past weekend I went to Six Flags Fiesta Texas with my family.
Given the lack of employment since March 2008 (I only worked about six months of the two year time period between March 2008 and March 2010), our family had been kind of vacationless for a while, and it made the trip to Six Flags a pretty big deal, a return to a more normal life.
My seven year old daughter is the youngest of the family, and also the bravest. We all went on the Road Runner Express, and it was very exciting. When it came to the Tony Hawk’s Big Spin, one member of the family decided it was a little too exciting and stayed on solid ground while the rest of us went on the ride. But when it came to the Rattler, the only one brave enough to want to go on it was my daughter. But she is too young to go on it alone.
I’m a big scaredy-cat when it comes to heights, and this coaster goes up to a pretty high height before plunging waaaaaay down (and the reason I don’t like heights is the other half of ”What goes up…”).
But my daughter really wanted to go. So I finally said, “Let’s go before I lose my nerve!”
While in line, I told anyone who would listen to me that I was absolutely terrified to go on the ride. (Eventually, after we had gotten in our seats, my daughter confided that she was a little scared too!) I even gave a self-deprecating mock scream as the coaster (slowly) left the boarding point just to show I wasn’t taking myself too seriously. Plus, a little gallows humor never hurt anyone (besides the executioner, at least)!
After the initial gut-wrenching drop, the ride was a great thrill, and I enjoyed myself immensely. I would have gone again but the wait had been nearly an hour and there was the rest of the family to consider…
So, I’m guessing about now you might be thinking I’m going to make the roller coaster a metaphor for unemployment. Ha! Nope. The roller coaster was fun, being unemployed was not.
No, the parallel is in trying to do something you are afraid of.
The act of putting on my big-boy pants (metaphorically speaking) and doing what I had to do so that my daughter could go on the ride that she wanted to go on was little different from going to my first networking event, or standing up in front of a crowd and making my first presentation (or my second, or third, or fourth for that matter), or starting to blog. And guess what? The thrill of hanging on for dear life and making it out alive was exactly the same.
And while going on the scary rollercoaster was fun, doing the scary stuff I learned to do while unemployed helped give me my answer to “What have you been doing while you’ve been unemployed?” and put me back on the road to employment.
So what did I learn from the metaphor (and what is it I want to teach you)?
- From my daughter, I learned to be brave.
- My daughter learned from me that it is OK to be scared but still do it anyway.
- Both of my kids learned from me that it is OK to publicly admit to fear… after all, what is braver: to do something you are not afraid of, or to do something you are terrified of?
- And finally, technically this is really a simile, not a metaphor. Sorry about that.
What are you afraid of? What might your fear be holding you back from? Also, I’m interested in learning from you what lessons you think I might have overlooked learning from this. What do you think?
Jim Adcock is Vice President of Launch Pad Job Club, an organization in Austin, Texas, whose mission is help people who have lost their jobs to get the skills they need to land their next job, and to help them cope with the interim between jobs. Check out other career-related entries.