Stretch Before You Leap

crossing_the_chasm

by Eric Santillan

Making decisions–the life-changing kind–is one of the hardest things to do. It is never easy to make changes in your life. As humans, we have the capacity to make do, to adapt, to get used to things. And according to Newton’s Law of Inertia, any change in life needs more energy and force than just staying with the status quo.

But the only thing constant in life is CHANGE. It is what makes evolution possible. It is the reason for the creation and invention of technology. It is what makes humans better. Imagine if Henry Ford had just decided to breed faster and faster horses instead of making better and better cars? Or if nobody found a way to put sms in celphones? We would still be relaying our messages to a human for it to be sent to a beeper. In the movie World War Z, Brad Pitt’s character knew it by intuition: MOVEMENT IS LIFE. If you don’t change, you petrify. If you stay put, you die.

One of my Jesuit teachers, Fr. Roque Ferriols, would always remind his students that in the end, when push comes to shove, when worse comes to worst, what you do is make a leap of faith: “LUNDAGIN MO BEYBE!”

But leaping is difficult and scary. It is NOT the most natural thing to do. It takes a lot of inertia. We are afraid of the unknown that leaping almost always brings us to. And having the courage to leap is grace.

And so we stretch before we leap.

To stretch is to gather enough information, to control what is controllable. Stretching is good because it gives us footholds and handholds to something that is otherwise too vague to be too scary. It is trying things on for size. And it is something that is also very human: we build confidence through experience.

Gather information. People need to gather information about the next step until they’re satisfied that it’s the right step to take. With the internet, it is so much easier today than many years ago. Every person will have a different threshold for the amount of information that satisfies them. Just know that not everything will be clear, not all bases will be covered. Sometimes you have to make decisions even if you don’t have all the info at your disposal.

Be with like-minded individuals. The best people to get information–and support–from are those who are in the same boat as you are. Discuss. Talk. Have coffee. Get perspective. Consult your mentor. GET a mentor if you don’t have one.

Try it on for size. You don’t have to do the next step full time. Try it out on weekends. And then add one more day or two if that is possible. The actual experience helps clarify many things that mere information gathering may not be able to do. Reality-test the information you have gathered.

Come into courage. For some people, courage gradually forms in your heart until you are able to make a decision. Conviction comes, not in foreworks fashion but in a slow, but gripping way. Courage also comes because we are able to reframe our experiences and see them with new eyes.

Pause. The PAUSE is important. Because we don’t want to make decisions just because we are reacting to our misery. Or because we are so happy. The best decisions are made in the peace and quiet of the everyday life. The best decisions are responses and not reactions.

Decide. This is where Fr. Ferriols comes back in. When worse comes to worst, when push comes to shove. After the pause. After the stretch.

We leap.

About Eric Santillan

AngPeregrino is Eric Santillan. He is a management consultant for two firms specializing in sustainable business, competitiveness and risk management, cost control and culture management. During weekends, he does counselling for Clinica Salutare, an Integrative Health Clinic. He is also a writer for The Mindanao Current, a core group member of Heroic Leadership Philippines, and a retreat giver.

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