06 April 2011

Risk: The Man - Boy Separator

"Its a dangerous business to walk out your front door. If you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where the road will take you!" 
- Bilbo Baggins, (paraphrased)

Model, Robin B. from a recent photo shoot
I guess this post goes along with the previous one about going solo. Just a few days after I made that post, I came across another blog post written by Scott Bourne on his GoingPro2010 blog. This particular post is about taking risks. Above all the things I can think about that differentiates one person from another in their prospective fields as it pertains to being successful, taking risks is the top element that separates the men from the boys. Or the girls from women, as it were. By nature, I think most people are risk-averse. In business and investments, we are actually taught to minimize risk, but we also understand that greater returns are expected commensurate to the level of risk assumed.

Model, Robin B
To some degree, we all take risks every time we step out the front door. We are comfortable getting into our cars every day and driving aggressively in morning traffic while texting and putting on make-up, yet this is where people have a tendency to die most often. I believe I can say with a high degree of certainty that this is one reason why most of us will not make grand achievements, fulfill dreams, or become wealthy. At some point in life, I think we all have that moment analogous to standing at the edge of the high dive and waver on the decision to jump or not. On the ground, it doesn't look that high. You see other people dive off and splash into the water. You can count the 1.5 seconds it takes for your buddy's feet to leave the diving board and hit the water. But when it's your turn to climb up the ladder, walk out to the edge, the perspective somehow looks different and that thrill that rushed through your veins from watching your friends do it has now consolidated into a heavy ball of a rock in the pit of your stomach.

We will approach this theoretical high dive moment several times in our lives as we encounter one situation after another. I remember the first time I had a leadership role in the Army. I was given an order to recon an intersection that was roughly 5 or 6 clicks away, [A click is a thousand meters, btw]. My map reading and land navigation skills were actually impeccable way early in my career. It was one of the first skills I learned to master behind marksmanship. The problem was two fold. One, I was still a Private First Class with an expectation to lead two other Privates on a far off mission. The weight of leadership can be quite daunting. The second was that  this was in the dead of pitch black, moonless night. I literally could not see the hand in front of my face, yet I was expected to confidently make my way to this intersection and sit there to watch it. Night observation goggles were useless on this patrol. There was no star-light to help amplify vision as most of this movement was under tree canopies.

Model, Robin B

What made me strong was the fact that I had two other people depending on me. The whole thing would have been disastrous had they looked in my eyes and saw fear. While I was truly fearful, I walked forward into the night with my two Privates in tow. I took the lead the entire way. I planned my route on a map before hand and had it approved by my supervisor. That was if we did get lost, somebody would know a general area to look for us. I also double-checked my pace-count before we left, which is often shorter when you walk in limited visibility. I trusted my training and my compass. Said a prayer and walked forward.

Model, Robin B

Model, Robin B
I don't recall how long it took us, but we made it on target and ahead of schedule. We got a little more light towards the end which made it possible to observe the road intersection with our night vision goggles. My superiors didn't believe we had made it so quickly when I radioed back on our position. We had to break protocol and low-crawl down closer to the intersection to read off the mile-marker and road signs to verify that we were indeed where we were supposed to be. We did our mission, reported back, and returned to be debriefed. At the end, I had my company commander ask how we got there so fast in the dead of night. He admitted that he was thoroughly pissed when he was told that it was myself and two other privates who had been given this task and not more skilled veterans. If not for the fact that we had already been gone a half hour, he'd never have allowed it. The man even jokingly asked how much we paid for the cab fair.

Model, Robin B
My point is this. Sometimes we have to simply jump, but it's still a good exercise in wisdom to jump as prepared as you can. I walked off into the night confident in my training, equipment, and God! I wasn't some trainee who couldn't find North on a map. Many times its the same thing with pros. You stand on the edge of Going Solo, with all the training and knowledge you'll ever need, yet you choose to climb back down the ladder complaining that the water's too cold. THE WATER WILL ALWAYS BE TOO COLD! Get past the fear. Embrace the thrill. JUMP!! Enjoy the fun and have some great stories to bore your kids with.


Karl said...

These photos are amazing! Both of you created some incredible magic in them. All are great and my favorite is the color one where you are looking up to Robin (In a great, standing in a strong pose) where she is surrounded by a perfect sky and clouds.

As for the message, I agree it is important to make the jump. Sometimes we have to make that jump without knowing enough of what we are getting into. I guess if we did know before hand, the jump would not be as important.

Photo Anthems.com said...

Glad you like these shots Karl. This girl is definitely up and coming. Those eyes are killer! I'm definitely still mid-air in my jump. In fact, my feet have barely left the high dive. My eyes are wide open and it looks like its going to be an ugly belly-flop. I think the real kicker is not getting knocked out in the process and to come up swimming afterwards. As long as you can stay afloat...YOU'RE GOOD!!

unbearable lightness said...

I agree with Karl - these photos are amazing! You kicked butt with Robin.