It was July 2014, the last day of our PDC at Geoff Lawton’s Zaytuna farm. He was in the front of the room jumping over an imaginary line. I’ll never forget the imagery the rest of my life. This thin Englishman, in classic Geoff Lawton attire, faced his students and literally hopped sideways over “the line”.
Geoff pointed out that we had one foot on either side of the fence and challenged us to get out of our comfort zone and jump into a permaculture right livelihood. He admitted that the easiest side of the line was a more conventional model where we’re safe and the income is steady, but we’re unhappy and working for something we don’t believe in.
On the other side was something more uncertain, but it excites us and makes a positive difference in this world.
Not only did he encourage us to get off of the fence and jump the line, he assured us we could succeed. How did he know? Because he once walked the line. He took the jump a long time ago and did whatever it took to survive. Now, as you know, he’s thriving. He’s very smart, but I assure he’s an ordinary man like you and me. Have you ever seen him at a “Permaculture Party”? He lights up like a kid at his own birthday party! Geoff’s worked for what he’s got. And you can too!
In this article I’ll share my story of how “jumped the line” with my recent project, “Permaculture Chickens” and I’ll offer you a downloadable worksheet HERE that will help you get started on your own journey.
Jumping is HARD! I know, I’ve done it myself and am in the midst of one of my biggest jumps ever. In this article, I’ll address what’s really holding you back and I’ll offer 3 steps for you to take to help you achieve your “leap of faith”.
Years ago, while on a mountain bike ride with a mentor in the beautiful NC mountains I unveiled my dreams to start a non-profit organization. My mentor asked a simple question, that I’ll never forget, “What’s stopping you?”
What is stopping you?
You have dreams too! Ask yourself for a moment, what’s stopping you? I bet it can be summed down to one word. Fear. The other side of the line is rather uncertain, and we don’t like that. I think we might even prefer unhappiness over uncertainty. I can help you beat your fear in just 3 steps.
3 Steps to Beating Your Fear …
How do you beat your fear? Well… the answer might surprise you. Permaculture has a way of turning a problem into a solution, and it doesn’t have to be any different here. We’ll actually get to know the fear by defining it, then put it through a rating system comparing it to the positive outcomes and lastly we’ll actually use fear as a motivator.
Step #1 – Get to Know Your Fear and Define it!
To conquer this fear, we’re going to get to know it better by defining it. In the end, we’ll actually use the very thing (fear) that’s stopping us to compel us for our leap. All we have to do is get to know it a bit better.
Take a moment and decide what it would look like if your worst nightmares came true. Let me give you a quick example from my own current experience. My latest leap has been my project, “Permaculture Chickens”.
As I approached the launch of the project, I explored my worst fears. They have included the likes of: I’ll spend months of work on the project for naught. I’ll spend all of my money and won’t get any in return. I’ll make a fool of myself with my debut to the permaculture community, I won’t be able to line up key teachers, I’m not good enough, I won’t be able to implement everything on the farm as desired, I won’t have time to do everything required for the project. I won’t get exposure from key people or blogs and I’ll spend hours on this particular story (originally for a popular permaculture site, Permaculture News) and they won’t post it.
What about you? Take a moment and write out all your worst fears, in vivid detail!
Step #2 – Rate Your Fears and Compare Them to Possible Positive Outcomes.
Now that you’ve defined your worst fears, let’s rate them!
Rate your worst case scenarios from 1-10 based on how permanently life changing these outcomes may be. 1 being the least of temporary setbacks to 10 being permanent lifelong damage. Then compare that to a rating of positive life changing effects if your dream were realized. 1 being a ripple of positive life change and 10 being on top of the “world” with positive life change.
What you’ll probably notice is that, if your worst fears actual come to fruition, you could easily recover to a stable condition in a fairly short amount of time. While at the same time, the potential payoffs are scoring high on the life changing effect!
For me, the most realistic and damaging fear would be a waste of time, money and energy for the months I’ve already spent on the project. But if the project fails, I feel I could easily explore something else and get back to where I started. I might rate that particular fear at 3-4. On the other hand, if this project does succeed, I could have lifelong benefits! I’d be helping 100’s of people in their sustainable adventure, I could get my money back and more, I could kick some butt on Kickstarter like “Permaculture Skills”. I might get speaking gigs, I might attract interns, I might be able to add workshops to our farm, I might even get enough money to work on another project etc….
What about you? Where do your worst fears and possible positive life long effects rate?
Step #3 – Let Fear be the Solution!
Weighing your fears against the possible life changing outcomes should help, but if you still need further motivation, let’s re-direct your fear. “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”, right?
Ask your fear some of the following questions:
What will my life look like 5-10 years from now if I stay on my current path?
What will the world look like 5-10 years from now if I stay on my current path?
Am I truly happy?
Are things really going to improve where I’m at, or am I just deceiving myself?
Is this what I’m really meant to do with my life?
The Grass IS Greener On The Other Side!
When I was 16 I took my 1st real job at Wal-mart as a cashier. After just 6 weeks of bad hours, low pay and boredom, I quit. Fortunately, that was my 1st and last “real” job. From there I pursued my own business in St. Bernard breeding, e-commerce, a non-profit organization, farming and now an educational film “Permaculture Chickens”.
I’ve already put to shame some of my original fears for this project. I’ve lined up an amazing crew of teachers (Joel Salatin, Pat Foreman and Jim Adkins), key folks in the permaculture community (including Geoff Lawton, Ben Faulk, Paul Wheaton, Diego, Jack Spirko) have all given me thumbs up and this article was posted on Permaculture News, so I didn’t waste hours composing this in vein!
It’s great over here on the other side of the fence, and it’s not as scary as you might imagine. The rewards are immense. Geoff’s over here. So is Salatin, Spirko, Wheaton, Olivier, Diego and so many more. You’ll be in good company.
If you were getting chased by stampeding cattle and there was a fence nearby, you’d dare to jump the fence, even into the unknown. Anything is better than getting trampled by a massive herd. Take your fear by the horns, get to know it, and transfer the fear to what you do know (the result from a life of safe living). Now jump in. Get to know your fear buddy and compare his worst outcomes to the positive long term effect and you just might just gain the nerves to jump.
The grass is greener over here, and there’s plenty of people to catch you!
Ready to jump?
Download my free worksheet to help you overcome your own fears HERE.