Why You Need to Leap Before You Look

Clarity is important for taking action. You can’t “do stuff,” you can only do specific things. Clarity turns blurry possibilities into clear objectives. There are many times, however, in which the clarity we desire is not obtainable from our current location. So we must leap… before we look!

guitar player leaps before he looks
When you leap, make sure you’re holding a guitar (just in case).

A real world example of this would be if your view is blocked by a mountain. You may have to go over or around the mountain before you are able to see what’s on the other side and create a plan of action. Your wildest dreams might be on the other side of the mountain, but seeing as your view is blocked, you can’t know for sure. The only way to find out is to start climbing the mountain.

Sometimes we must move before we can see.

For my career, and perhaps my life as a whole, I’ve been like a blind man stumbling around. It sure feels that way. For example, I never “knew I’d be an author” until I had written books. I never had a grand plan to buy a house in Orlando, but I’ve been very happy with it. Before I got here, I moved around a lot. I leapt a lot!

From 2013 to present, I’ve moved six times, including a period of time in which I sold my possessions and traveled. Here was my path:

  • North Carolina to Jacksonville, FL
  • Jacksonville to Portland
  • Portland to Seattle
  • Seattle to Nomad/Los Angeles
  • Los Angeles back to Seattle
  • Seattle to Orlando

With every move, I learned a lot about what I liked in a place, what I absolutely needed access to (basketball and Chipotle), and what I thought I’d love but didn’t really (nomad life). By taking these “blind” leaps to new places, I was able to gain significant clarity about where I wanted to live. I couldn’t know that if I planted in one place all those years.

Orlando has been an excellent home for me. I’m an entertainment nut, and live close to major theme parks. I like warm weather, and I sweat the instant I walk outside (okay, this is a downside, but you’ve got to find downsides you can live with). I’m close to family. I have access to pickup basketball at LA Fitness. And I have a car.

The move to Seattle included selling my car and living without one in the city. Aside from hating inner-city driving, I thought I’d love the freedom of not having to deal with car stuff. Instead, I felt very restricted and became too much of a homebody. Seattle also hates indoor basketball. They sold my favorite NBA team (Seattle Supersonics), and they have almost no indoor basketball courts. I found out that I needed a car and pickup basketball to live my best life.

There’s a famous saying that goes against what I’m saying. It’s “look before you leap.” But context is very important here, because not all blind leaps are alike. Most leaps can be known to be relatively safe before taking them, even if you lack full clarity about how they’ll play out. When you move to a new city, for example, you can’t know for sure that you’ll like it, but the risk is not lethal! It’s not the same as leaping into a body of water with sharp rocks lurking beneath the surface.

Whenever the risk is only “I might not like it,” leap if you’re curious. It’s actually a good thing to discover something that you don’t like, because then you can avoid it without wondering “what if.” That being said, I will never knit anything and I’m okay without trying it. You don’t have to try everything, but do try some things.

I had wondered for many years if I should live a nomadic life. I found out within a month of trying it that I didn’t want that lifestyle. For how expensive and inconvenient it was to go from home living to nomad and back within a few months, it was worth it to never have to wonder again.

Life’s paths are so numerous and varied that it requires a good amount of leaping without looking. Just don’t apply this advice to rock-filled lakes and you should do just fine.

Clarity most often comes after the leap, not before it. Leap before you look and then you will see (advice does not apply to lakes).

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