As a child, I made my decisions about the world quickly and assuredly. I gave things one chance and if it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, I wouldn’t touch it again with a 10-foot pole for years. I once saw a fisherman gut a fish on a pier, which was, as you can imagine, HORRIFYING. I didn’t eat fish and chips for two years after that. Also on my blacklist included the dark, the vacuum cleaner, Chuck E Cheese, and roller coasters. Actually, let me clarify that last one – anything with a slight change in elevation.
Because of this, Disneyland was my family’s choice of theme park. One year, I decided I was old enough to graduate from the kiddy rides to something a little more intense like Pirates of the Caribbean or Indiana Jones. Not quite ready for Space Mountain, but I was stepping up the ladder. My parents decided that my inaugural adult ride should be Indiana Jones. Knowing my history, my parents knew that this would be a very important experience: this moment would either allow all of us to ride something other than the teacups every year or we’d be stuck spinning around with toddlers until I could muster up the courage to try again.
BOOM, the ride takes off. We start jostling to and fro, flying around corners. My mom has locked eye contact with me. I’m staring at her and she can see my mind quickly deciding if I like this adult ride or not. I’m quickly deducing that I definitely DON’T. But before my mind can say NOPE WE DO NOT LIKE THIS and I start crying, my mom throws her hands up in the air and starts laughing.
Errrr, screech. My mind comes to a halt as I’m trying to wrap my head around the fact that my mother is laughing! On this very scary ride!…Or is it really a scary ride? Just as quickly, my mindset shifts and suddenly I’m seeing the ride through her eyes. It’s not so scary. It’s kind of fun! It’s kind of silly! I break out into a huge grin and start laughing, too. We laughed past the giant snake, we laughed across the rickety bridge, we even laughed down the huge drop. I got off the ride and declared that I loved it! It was my new favorite ride.
I often think about this memory and now that I’m older, I’m so impressed with how my mom handled that moment. If she wrapped her arms around me and told me it would all be over soon, I would’ve cried the whole ride and written it off completely, but because she laughed and threw her arms up, my mindset shifted. Our brains are so powerful and have the ability to bias us, to make us decide if something is safe or not, good or not, scary or not. As a coach, look for the opportunities to throw your hands up and laugh. You may lead your clients to do so as well.
Thanks, Mom, for making me braver. Happy Mother’s Day.
Check out the first picture, yep, that’s me along with Susan’s daughter having fun on the teacup ride many years ago.