Sometimes You Just Have to Take That Leap

by Lance Ekum on · 40 comments

“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Skydiving – A Story of That First Step In Faith

A daring adventure, this was.  Let me tell you the story.  My wife would be celebrating her birthday.  What to get her?  A skydiving lesson!  Was this something I wanted to do, she asked after receiving her gift (in the form of a certificate to be scheduled at a later date)?  Well, I wasn’t sure.  It involved something I’d never done before, it involved heights (scary!), and it seemed so black or white – your parachute opens or it doesn’t (you can imagine the picture in my head…).

Her adventurous side convinced me to do it.  And what a great experience!  We would be jumping tandem – an experienced jumper would be attached to us and control the parachute.  Training was minimal – we were shown the proper way to step out of a moving plane.  Step out of a moving airplane – in the air – were we nuts!  And then it was time to go up.  Going up, it started to sink in.  What was I getting myself into?  How could I turn around and skip this?  It was an old plane, and even the pilot had a parachute – what did this mean?  There were lots of questions going through my head.  And a pit in the bottom of my stomach.

And then we reached the altitude we needed to be at for our jump.  Can you recall moments in your life that stand out for some reason?  Maybe a scary moment, or an exciting moment.  Well, the time had come.  The door to the plane was opened.  And I was told to start moving toward the open door.  I was then clipped in with our skydiving instructor.  And there I was, 10,000 feet in the air, looking out the open door of a moving airplane – and hanging on for dear life!  This  became a moment I’ll never forget.  The fear of taking that next step.  Of having faith in taking that next step.  The one that would take me from the comfort and certainty of the airplane, out into the day sky, and gravity, and whatever else might happen from this high distance.  Thoughts rushed through my head.  The pit in the bottom of my stomach grew larger.  The instructor with me told me it was time to step out onto the wing.  Fear!  Fear of not knowing what would come next.  Fear of something new.  The biggest step of my life (at least, at that moment, it seemed that way).  It was time.  And then, I stepped out.  And just like that, we were free-falling toward earth.  And what an exhilarating feeling it was!  The rush through the sky, the loudness of pushing through the air!  The sheer speeds we reached!  The freedom of the open sky – incredible!  And then we opened up the parachute.  Instantly we went from a loud rush through the sky to quiet and calm.  And I looked around.  And noticed the world beneath me.  From a free-fall to controlled movement.  Family on the ground, waving to me.  Peace.  A feeling of joy in the world.  And we glided in for a perfect landing.

I had taken that leap – scary as it was.  And the experience was like nothing I’d experienced before.  And it was liberating.  And I felt like I could do anything I wanted to do at that moment.

Taking the Leap

Skydiving.  This became much more than just the rush of jumping out of an airplane.  This became a moment that I have looked back on many times.  Skydiving became a lesson I could use at times when fear would try to overtake my thoughts.  Sometimes, we don’t kow what’s going to happen when we take that next step in our lives.  Will we crash?  Be ridiculed?  Fail miserably?  Succeed and not know how to handle it?  Sometimes we just don’t know.  No matter how much preparation we have put in.

You’ve studied your options, you’ve prepared, you’ve crossed your t’s and dotted your i’s.  But the next step takes you into the unknown.  If you feel confident in where you’re going, but just not what the next step will be like – I encourage you to take that leap.  You may not see where that step is going to take you, or what’s up around the next corner.  But, if this is something you really want, take the chance.  You may fail.  But have you not also failed if you want something and don’t take the chance to get it.  And you may succeed, success beyond your wildest dreams.  But you will never know, if you don’t take some of those steps, if you don’t leap with faith in yourself.

It can be a real test of your faith.  Do you believe in yourself and what your going after?  Jump!  Take a chance!  Fail miserably, if that’s the case.  And then, get back up and do it again.  In the end, you will be much more fulfilled in your life, knowing that you lived it on your terms.  That you tried boldly the things which set your heart on fire.  And that, that is success in life.

Lance writes stories from his heart, aiming to inspire and motivate, as you align more fully with YOUR true peak. When he's not here, you can find him hanging out with his family, riding a bike, or just generally acting goofy.   Sign up for the Thoughts from the Treehouse newsletter and get additional inspiration in your email inbox!
Lance Ekum
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{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Writer Dad August 21, 2008 at 10:29 am

Really, really cool Lanceman. I’ve always wanted to do this. About two weeks after I finally decided to go ahead and do it, we found out we were pregnant. All of a sudden, I didn’t want to take the chance (even a tiny one) that I wouldn’t be around to be a dad. But it’s never left my Someday List.


Sara at On Simplicity August 21, 2008 at 11:30 am

Lance, you rock! Thanks for the reminder that the things that scare us most can sometimes offer the greatest rewards.


Wendi Kelly-Life's Little Inspirations August 21, 2008 at 1:14 pm

That is a truly inspiring story. But I am so afraid of heights that I just can’t fathom it! My husband once mentioned a Balloon ride as an idea and I said Don’t you dare!
Maybe when the kids are older..all the way grown. I think it’s like Writer Dad said, once I became a Mom the fear of not being there for my kids supercedes most truly frightenng adventures for me!

Wendi Kelly-Life’s Little Inspirationss last blog post..Sandcastle Promises


Annette August 21, 2008 at 3:20 pm

Oh my, Lance! You really are so much braver than me! I have a fear of heights. We lived in Colorado when I was growing up. We used to go camping ever summer and whenever we were driving up a mountain or hiking and I could see all the way down, I had such a paralyzing fear. My legs were heavy, my knuckles clenched. I don’t know if I could ever do something like what you all did, but maybe one day……? That would be something! Thanks for the inspiration. Way to go 🙂


Dave Fowler August 21, 2008 at 3:34 pm

Well said, Lance.

If you don’t mind me saying…. You have balls of steel.

I’ve often contemplated a parachute jump, but my wife isn’t keen. It’s one of those things I know I’ll do eventually.

You’re quite right, of course. As long as you get back up, it doesn’t matter if you fall.


PS feel free to edit the ‘balls of steel’ if you don’t consider it family friendly.


Monica August 21, 2008 at 3:41 pm

I have wanted to do a jump for so long! I keep getting stuck between fear and adventure. I’m trying to observe the fear as energy in the body, rather than justified thoughts in my mind so that I don’t talk myself out of things. It’s working slowly! “They” say that in order to grow most, feel the fear and then do it anyway, right?


Avani-Mehta August 21, 2008 at 3:48 pm

A very inspiring post Lance. Sky Diving is on my list as well. Your story reminded me of my experience with roller coasters. Took me a long time to gather courage and get over my fear of them.

Avani-Mehtas last blog post..Decoding Anger – Anger Management Series Part I


Amanda Linehan August 21, 2008 at 3:59 pm

Just like the quote says – sometimes we don’t know where we are going, but we know we’ve got to take that step. What a great way to illustrate trusting uncertainty!


Rachel D August 21, 2008 at 4:05 pm

Amazing story! I think I need to add sky diving to my to-do list.

Rachel Ds last blog post..Yummy Eggs


Lanceman August 21, 2008 at 7:42 pm

@Writer Dad – Thanks! Yes, this is something you do think twice about when you’re a parent – I sure did. But it was a great experience!

@Sara – Thanks! Yep, sometimes it’s that which scares us that will also set our hearts on fire.

@Wendi Kelly – Well, that sounds just like me – I hate heights! So that made this “adventure” all that much more mentally challenging. And, yes, kids can really change how you think about life and what your priorities are. That made this a tough decision for me, as well.

@Annette – See above, heights are not my friend either! Scary? Yes. But it ended up being one of those moments I’ll remember always, and that made it all worth it!

@Dave – I don’t mind you saying – in fact I take it as a compliment! If (when) you try it, I know you’ll find it to be an exhilarating experience.

@Monica – Go for it! I know, easier said than done. This was a very fearful thing for me to to too. And I completely felt paralyzed trying to put my foot out that door. But once I did, it was an awesome experience! So, yes – feel your fear, and then do it! Good luck in wrestling with this decision in your mind – I know it’s not an easy one.

@Avani – Thank you! Skydiving is one of those things that many have on their list, I think. And I think it’s because there are so many fears associated with it, you really feel like you are conquering some of the mental blocks that hold you back. Rollercoasters – as a kid, I loved them. As an adult – some of them are just too much!

@Amanda – That’s right, and this first step was quite a scary one for me – but really worth it in the end!

@Rachel D – Yes, I encourage you to add it to your list. Like I said to Avani above, it’s a great way to get over some of the fears that hold us back.


Rachel August 21, 2008 at 8:04 pm

It’s amazing to me how few instructions there are for jumping out of a plane. That is so brave, and I guess it can really put other parts of life into perspective, like you said.

Rachels last blog post..Good Night for a Good Morning


Stacey / CreateaBalance August 22, 2008 at 12:07 am

Very inspiring. Living boldly doesn’t mean you won’t fall down. It’s about being able to stand back up and contine living your dream.

Stacey / CreateaBalances last blog post..Wordless Wednesday: Dream Bigger


Lanceman August 22, 2008 at 5:15 am

@Rachel – For what we were doing, it did seem like pretty short instructions! But, hey, it all worked out great. Perspective was the biggest thing I took away. And that’s what really made this powerful for me.

@Stacey/CreateaBalance – And that’s the biggest take away for me – that it’s ok to fall down, or take some steps into the unknown. Life goes on. And if these steps are in the direction we want our life to go, then even failure is worth it.


Dr. Cason August 22, 2008 at 5:38 am

My dad kept looking at me shaking his head and asking “Now why would you jump out of a perfectly good airplane??”

Couldn’t explain it as nicely as you did. I just wanted to!

Dr. Casons last blog post..The Last Days of Summer


Stacey August 22, 2008 at 6:02 am

Great story, Lance. I felt similar when I participated in my first Firewalk. I walked away saying “I can do anything” and I remember that moment quite often. For me, failure means I tried something and that means I’m provided with an opportunity to learn – about my abilities and strengths and even weaknesses. I believe failure comes more often by not taking action. Take a leap that makes sense for you – very inspiring!


Lanceman August 22, 2008 at 6:58 am

@Dr. Cason – That’s awesome, you’ve done this too! I heard that same thing – why would you jump out of a perfectly good airplane… It is a powerful experience, isn’t it!

@Stacey – A firewalk – I think that might be harder to do than skydiving (well, for me anyway)! I bet you did feel like you could do anything. I also agree with you about failure being not taking action. We can learn so much when we do something and fail – that it’s not like a failure at all, but just one way that didn’t work.


FitMom August 22, 2008 at 10:59 am

Love that story, but I know I will never jump out of an airplane. A cousin of ours just completely split open his pelvis when he landed badly. But, I know it’s more about having faith with nothing underneath you. Would love to try rock climbing some day.

FitMoms last blog post..Clothing for your lifestyle


Mark Salinas August 22, 2008 at 12:28 pm

On my list of things to do in my life…….my biggest fear are heights. I agree that some of the biggest fears reap the biggest rewards!

Mark Salinass last blog post..Link Time!


Cath Lawson August 22, 2008 at 12:43 pm

Hi Lance – I’m impressed. I’ve thought of trying skydiving many times, but I’ve always wimped out. I guess the fact that I’m afraid of heights probably doesn’t help much either.

Doing things to push yourself out of your comfort zone really helps you to take on new challenges. I bet there’s probably few things you fear after sky diving.


Vered August 22, 2008 at 5:11 pm

It’s true! Stepping out of our comfort zone and taking a chance is the only way to live life to its fullest.

PS. What skydiving did for you, downhill skiing did for me. 🙂

Vereds last blog post..Obsessed With SEO?


Lanceman August 22, 2008 at 6:16 pm

@FitMom – OK, I’m glad I didn’t hear that story before I went. Hope it all turned out ok in the end. And that’s the thing, in whatever we do. We never really know for sure what will happen (going to the store, taking the kids to school, driving to work, skydiving). Some things are more inherently dangerous than others, though, and that’s a good point. There is an extra level of risk involved. Rock climbing sounds fun (and a bit scary) too!

@Mark – That was me too – a big fear of heights. I’m now a little more comfortable going up on the roof at my house (little is the key word)!

@Cath – Yes, it’s our fears that get in the way. I think we’ll always fear something. I still have a fear of heights – just not as bad.

@Vered – Downhill skiing — I remember doing that with our kids last winter. They had never skied before, and it had been a few years since we had. I was a bit scared of how fast I was going, and would I stop. They just went on by, no fear. Sometimes being a kid and not knowing what to fear can be a good thing.


Marelisa August 22, 2008 at 6:40 pm

That is so awesome Lance! I want to go parachuting! However, I want to go on a brand new plane and with a brand new parachute–well, not brand new, I want someone to have tested it before-hand, but pretty new. I bet you see yourself a little bit differently after doing something like this, kind of like, “I jumped”.

Marelisas last blog post..Five Simple Ways to Create Passive Income


Barbara Swafford August 22, 2008 at 6:51 pm

Hi Lance,

How awesome. When I was younger I wanted to go sky diving, but it never happened. Now it’s not something I yearn to do.

I do know before I’ve taken “leaps of faith”, I was always filled with both fear and excitement. When I look back, those were the most life changing events for me.

Barbara Swaffords last blog post..Four Day Open Mic – 8/21 to 8/24/08


chris August 22, 2008 at 8:49 pm

I felt the rush just reading your account of your experience. Sky diving is one my need to do list before I kick the bucket…

chriss last blog post..It Is In The Eyes of The Beholder


Irene | Light Beckons August 22, 2008 at 9:10 pm

That was very brave of you Lance! I have to admit that skydiving was never on my to-do list. But then, after reading this post … hmmm, who knows? 🙂 Perhaps it’ll be easier if there’s someone who’s willing to take this leap off a moving plane with me!

Irene | Light Beckonss last blog post..Gifted Children


Urban Panther August 22, 2008 at 11:43 pm

In response to stairway quote, I am coming back with a poem by A.A. Milne

Halfway down the stairs is a stair where I sit.
There isn’t any other stair quite like it.
I’m not at the bottom, I’m not at the top.
So this is the stair where I always stop.

Halfway up the stairs isn’t up and isn’t down.
It isn’t in the nursery, it isn’t in the town.
And all sorts of funny thoughts run round my head.
It isn’t really anywhere, it’s somewhere else instead

When it comes to jumping out of planes, I think I’d get halfway down the ‘stairs’ and sit right down. Nice and comfy. Thank you very much! Good on you!!

Okay, I know there will come a time when I will have to quit my job, to really push ahead on what I really want to do. To me, this will be the equivalent of jumping out of that airplane.

Urban Panthers last blog post..The Samson Factor


Leanne Magraith August 23, 2008 at 5:32 am

Sky diving and bungee jumping are in my not to do list. I am in awe of anyone brave enough to do either of these activities.

After doing something like that Lance you must feel like a superhero – invincible – how awesome! It would certainly put taking chances in life in general into perspective.

Leanne Magraiths last blog post..The Voice of Self Doubt


Lanceman August 23, 2008 at 9:11 am

@Marelisa – That’s funny! When we were going up – I was thinking the same thing — an newer plan would have been nice! And it really was an awesome experience. A real confidence booster – I did feel like I could do anything once I had done it!

@Barbara – That’s the thing, we change as we grow through life. So what we wanted to do ten years ago, is no longer on our list. And that’s ok. Whatever our “leap of faith”, there usually is fear and excitement – well said!

@Chris – It was a rush for me as well! And it really began once I decided to do it along with my wife, a couple of weeks before the actual jump. The anticipation
was a rush as well as the actual jump (although the jump brought the biggest rush).

@Irene – It was brave – especially since I have a fear of heights! And it was something I wouldn’t have considered unless I was able to go with someone else along who knew what they were doing! I put a lot of trust into someone I had met just 30 minutes before the jump!

@Urban Panther – I like that! Sit right down, halfway down! Sometimes we have to stop and think about where we’re going, and if it’s in the direction we want. Thank you very much! Kind of like a change in careers…it can be a leap of faith. But, sometimes that’s just what we need to really set our hearts on fire.

@Leanne – Yes, they are not on everyone’s list. In fact, I wasn’t sure they were on mine – but in ended up being a moment I’ll never forget. I sure did feel invincible once I had done it – and that was a great feeling! And the biggest take-away from it for me – that I could do anything I wanted to if I just set my mind and heart to it.


Brandi Magill August 23, 2008 at 9:18 am

You ROCK Lance! I have always wanted to do that, hmmmmm…..I think I will now! Thank you for being so encouraging. You ccan be my cheerleader any day:~)

Brandi Magills last blog post..Failure is That of an Illusion


Lanceman August 24, 2008 at 7:13 am

Brandi – Thanks much!! I say go for it! And that’s not just skydiving – it’s whatever you’ve thought about really doing (skydiving, rock climbing, teaching…), but have been hesitant about. I’m in your corner (or, in this case, in the cockpit, or the teachers lounge) – cheering you on!


Kelly@SHE-POWER August 25, 2008 at 12:41 am


Thanks for sharing that with us. I really believe the couple that has fun together and challenges each other will stay together. Sounds like you and your wife will have many happy and adventurous years ahead.

“It can be a real test of your faith. Do you believe in yourself and what your going after? Jump! Take a chance! Fail miserably, if that’s the case. And then, get back up and do it again. In the end, you will be much more fulfilled in your life, knowing that you lived it on your terms. ”

Wise words.

Kelly 🙂

Kelly@SHE-POWERs last blog post..An Extract From My Novel, “Running With The Dead”


Lanceman August 25, 2008 at 5:03 am

Kelly, thanks for your kind words! We do try to have fun and be adventurous, and I believe that has been one of the keys to our happy and fulfilled marriage. Here’s to many more adventures ahead!


Urbane Lion August 25, 2008 at 12:17 pm

This is exactly where the difference is made between succesful entrepreneurs and people who just have great ideas. Everybody has great ideas. Few put them in action or bring the project to fruitition. LOL… I have to say that my heart was pounding as I was reading your post!


Lanceman August 25, 2008 at 2:26 pm

@Urbane Lion – That’s right! Action is the key. We can all dream, we can all be creative, but if we don’t do something — nothing happens. And, well, my heart was really, really pounding as I was taking those few steps to the open plane door!


Andy August 25, 2008 at 9:25 pm

Some buddies of mine wanted to take me skydiving for my upcoming bachelor party. I just had to pass it up. I absolutely would NOT take that step when the door opened. There are just some things in this world that I am too scared to try. I have limits. I have weaknesses. I think it is so important to recognize limitations because then it lets to focus on the things that you are actually good at. You know? I may not be able to jump out of a plane, but I know damn well that I am good at making people laugh and I am OK with that.


Lanceman August 25, 2008 at 10:22 pm

Andy, thanks for stopping by! You make a good point – if there is something you absolutely don’t want to do, you shouldn’t do it. We do have limitations, and for everyone they are different. The key, I think, is to be willing to step out of your comfort zone and try new things. Granted, though, it should be something you are willing to try. Thanks for sharing this viewpoint. It’s good to see this from another perspective.


Tammy Warren September 11, 2008 at 9:26 am

Oh me…I do not like heights. Once in college, I did jump from a plane. I was working for the Physics department and my boss, from Scotland, had some visitors over from his hometown. They did talk me into the jump. I survived. I am not sure why I did the jump. At the time I had convinced myself that people that enjoyed Physics were not normal. I decided to go along for the ride. I don’t regret it…I just won’t do it again.

Tammy Warrens last blog post..Long past due again!


Patricia - Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker January 17, 2009 at 3:59 pm

Lance, congratulations on facing your fears head on with this experience. I also have a fear of heights. My dream is to one day go for a ride in a hot air balloon. I figure I will spend the first part of the ride sitting in the bottom of the basket getting control of my fear before I can stand up and look out over the basket at the sky and ground. Given the chance, I know that I will do this some day.

My first airplane ride was 22 hours in the air, plenty of time to face and overcome my fear of flying.

Patricia – Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker´s last blog post..Kindness—Why Is It Easier To Be Kind To Strangers?


Lance January 18, 2009 at 5:35 am

Patricia, thanks for stopping by! I wish you the best in some day traveling in a hot air balloon. That heights thing…whoa! A 22 hour flight – that’s a long time in the air. This plane ride felt like about 22 seconds – before I knew it, the door was open, and I was asked to jump – that was the hardest step I’ve ever taken!


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