I went to a theme park yesterday with my family. I am a father of four boys, and the youngest is five years old. For the last two years, he’s been watching his older brothers go on a ride called The Storm.
The Storm is probably the most enjoyable, exhilarating and scary ride I have ever ridden. It’s a roller coaster with a few very steep drops that leave your stomach at the top while the rest of your body is at the bottom of the dip.
The last big drop is actually two drops. The first lulls you into a false sense of security as you think the ride is over, then it drops you again. And while you recover it then sprays you with water, so you’re left soaking from head to foot.
No matter how much you vow not to scream, men, women, boys, and girls all exude a similar high pitched scream as they’re taken to the limits of their senses.
By the end of the ride, you’re left on such a high from adrenaline and emotion all you can do is look at the person beside you and laugh uncontrollably. You feel alive!
Every time my three boys and I go on this ride, my five-year-old arrives at the entry and is turned away because he is too short. But with every trip, he gets closer to the mark.
Yesterday he made it. He grew enough to go on The Storm with an accompanying adult. Because I have to accompany my second youngest, my five-year-old had one more wait before his turn.
That first ride was probably the scariest one for me. Maybe it was the thought of taking my baby on it that made me more nervous as I checked the straps and safety mechanisms.
It was lots of fun as usual, but after the ride, I was apprehensive to take my five-year-old on. I proceeded to tell him how scary it was. I said he may not like it and asked if he was sure he wanted to go. I did everything I could to scare him so he wouldn’t go on the ride.
I wasn’t sure if a child that small should go on a ride that intense even though I knew the ride was safe.u
Every time I asked, “Do you still want to go?” he just nodded “Yes” apprehensively. I asked again, trying harder to turn him off the ride, but again there was another apprehensive nod “Yes.”
With every attempt, I saw his eyes grow more determined, even though his fear was rising because of my concern.
Finally, I realized I was putting my fear on him and decided to just do it!.
I grabbed him and held him in my arms as we walked courageously to The Storm.
He was quiet; I had really freaked him out. I feel felt awful, but I noticed that he was not going to let my fear control him.
He had watched his brothers from the sideline as they screamed with joy for two years now. Always watching but never participating. I’m sure he had rehearsed this moment in his mind many times before. His moment had come, and he was determined to take the opportunity.
We got on the ride. I had changed words from negative to positive. I was now encouraging him to affirm his decision.
As we walked down the line and jumped into the car, I got lots of smiles from adults. Smiles that were part encouraging, part “How cute”, and part “Are you sure?”
I smiled back, and my boy remained calm, serious and controlled. I expected him to want to get off at some point because I had freaked him out so much, but he never did.
At the time in the ride when men women and children all make that high pitched scream, I heard another I had not heard before. I heard the scream of my five-year-old. It was much higher than the rest, and it had more joy than all the others put together. He had waited two years to scream like that, and it was like a symphony to my ears.
By the end of the ride, we were wet and laughing uncontrollably. I grabbed him and asked, “Are you OK?” I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was hard for him to talk through all the noise, water, and laughing, but when he could he said four words, “Let’s do it again!”
My five year old taught me a big lesson today.
When you have planned and rehearsed for a long time and your big moment comes. Go for it. Don’t hesitate. Don’t listen to others who don’t have your courage. Don’t listen to fear.
Know that you are ready because you have prepared and walk into the success you have planned.
I am sure there are many ways you can apply this to sales and marketing, but I will leave it there.
I can’t wait for the day to tell this story to his children and my grandchildren 🙂