• Dr. Alessandra Wall

Make the Jump - Acting Despite Fear

There I stand, I just made my first jump from a small wall onto the handrail. I landed well, I’m balanced, my body feels strong.


Now all I have to do, all I’m dreaming of doing, is make the second leap. It’s 7 ft away to the other side of the steps onto the other handrail.


I think I can do it! Maybe. Possibly. But what if I miss, and I can picture it now, I’ll slip and either jam my shin on the railing or worse land, slip and fall on my back on the railing. Screw this, I can do it!


I go for the jump, I chicken out, I pull my power and land on the stairs mere centimeters (1/4 of an inch) from the railing. I can do this, but I can’t, because I’m scared. 

What’s holding me back is fear, uncertainty, the knowledge that I can’t 100% guarantee that my gut is right.


I want to trust myself, but like everything else in life, I can’t be 100% sure that I’m right. So I hesitate, I second guess, and I pull back. I imagine the worst, and every time I do, I put off moving forward a little longer.


This doesn’t just happen in parkour, and it doesn’t just happen to me. We all go through this with any and every kind of decision we make.


You want certainty. You want to know that the choices you make are right. You want to be infallible, but you’re not. There is no way of gaining the certainty you seek to approach a situation without fear or doubt. The trick is to know how to jump despite fear.


There is no way of gaining the certainty most of us seek to approach a situation without fear or doubt. The trick is to know how to jump despite fear.


Act Despite Fear:

Acting despite fear is not about being reckless or gambling. It is about paying attention to what you know and working with what is, instead of worrying about what if. 


There is a great quote from Andy Stanley that I randomly came across the other day:

“There will be very few occasions when you are absolutely certain about anything. You will consistently be called upon to make decisions with limited information. That being the case, your goal should not be to eliminate uncertainty. Instead, you must develop the art of being clear in the face of uncertainty.“


This sums it up. Moving forward in life, making decisions, or pursuing choices shouldn’t be done expecting certainty. Instead, the goal is to trust what you know and act on that knowledge and that knowledge alone.


The pursuit of certainty is the death of action. It is the death of change and growth. Learning to act despite fear, does not mean pretending that fear doesn’t exist. It’s acknowledging, understanding, and accepting that your fears are there, and often unfounded.


It happens when you remember that fear is about fantasy – what if this… or what if that…. These are things that have yet to come, they are figments of your imagination. Acting despite fear is done when you accept that what is known is all you can account for.



Maybe I’ll Make the Jump:

I’ll make that jump one day. Right now I am practicing making the 7ft jump from a ground rail to another ground rail. That way, when the time comes, I’ll know that I am in fact capable of gapping the distance.


I’ve already been practicing acting despite fear in my day-to-day life. 


There my fears, my what-ifs, sounded something like this: “What if you can’t be as successful as you want? What if you put in all that work, truly commit to making this, spend the money, and the time and it’s a waste? What if you put your all into it, and you fail? What if others see you fail? What if you’ve gotten as far are you’re going to get?”


Tired of limiting my life and pulling my punches I reminded myself that: I know what I am doing and I have the combo of great professional knowledge and passion for what I do. There is no way of growing a business without taking risks and committing to a course of action. The women I have worked with constantly report huge life shifts. I remembered that I have nothing to lose, because the alternative is okay, and okay is unacceptable!


Knowing what is, doesn’t eliminate my fear. I am a perfectionist, I have always expected myself to excel (not just succeed) on the first try. Anything less is crushing. Focusing on what I know, rather than what I fear, allows me to say “screw it”, and acknowledge that there is no reality in which fear vanishes. There is no world in which I make that jump and know for sure, beforehand, that I can land the way I want to. 


The pursuit of certainty is the death of action. It is the death of change and growth.


Your Turn:

Acting despite fear is like a mantra with me. I preach it to my patients, my clients, my friends, my family, and myself. I’m preaching it to you. Be honest with yourself now; you know there is something you want badly and you’re not going for it, because you can’t be sure it will work out.


Take a minute… think about it, what is that thing you’ve been putting off. Bet you there is more than one!


Check your thoughts: 

How many what-ifs do you have? 

What are they?


Check your knowledge: 

What do you know to be true? 

What is?

Are you going to do it? 

Will you choose to accept that there is no certainty? 


There is only what you know to be true. It’s all you can operate on. Is that knowledge pointing you towards or away from taking that action, making that choice?


Remember, there is no RIGHT, just right for you, right now. You can figure that one out.



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