If you’ve bought an electronic appliance lately, you know you can’t leave the store without the salesperson pitching you on an opportunity to buy replacement insurance, a service contract, or an extended warranty.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could buy these types of guarantees for other parts of your life, say when you start a new job, change a career, or take the risk of telling someone you care about that you love them first? There are no guarantees on any of these endeavors and many of these things can’t be undone, yet people take these risks every day.
In the past few years, I’ve learned a lot about taking risks. Two and a half years ago, I walked into my boss’ office and said I was going to quit my good-paying job to start a neighborhood newspaper called Atlanta 30306. I had no staff, no money and no advertisers. I just had a good feeling. And yet, it was only after I quit that local business people took their own individual leaps of faith and wrote checks to someone they didn’t know to buy advertising in a newspaper they had never seen.
A year ago, a friend asked me to lunch. He was looking around for a job opportunity. Near the end of the meal, we talked about starting a newspaper in his neighborhood, 30305. I told him I wasn’t sure I was ready to take another leap, but maybe my timetable was not the governing one. I told him I’d put the question to God and if I started getting green lights, we’d do it. If we got red lights, we’d stop. We got nothing but green lights.
There are two emotions involved in these leaps of faith: fear and courage. Anyone who makes any kind of leap is going to be afraid ? of failure, rejection, the unknown. A lot of people remain in current situations because they’re waiting for the fear to go away. It doesn’t. Courage is necessary to make the jump anyway.
A paradox about making a leap of faith is that at the same time we’re trying to take control of some aspect of our lives, we’re also admitting that we aren’t totally in control. That’s when we have to rely on faith.
People call me sometimes with their own ideas for starting a business. They’re looking for encouragement. They want to know the secret formula for ensuring their idea will work. I’m no expert, but I do know there is no secret formula. It’s scary out there. It helps to ask yourself, what’s the worse case scenario if I fail? Sometimes the worst is that you’ll have to start over. But even then, you’ll learn lessons. Meet people. Gain experience.
A few weeks ago, the Atlanta Downtown Partnership approached us about starting a newspaper for folks that work downtown and for the pioneers that are making their own leaps of faith by moving into the warehouses being converted into loft residences. I’m scared beyond belief. We need to hire new people, buy new computers, and ask for advertising from people I don’t yet know. It’s possible we may fail, but something in my gut says, “I don’t think so.”
Wait, I think there’s a green light up ahead. Excuse me, I need to go take a flying leap. And say a prayer.