Janet Walkow Christine Jacobs

The First Step

I have never liked heights.  My hands get sweaty as I drive over tall bridges and I panic in tall buildings.  And don’t even think of getting me in a roller coaster. So how did I find myself on the floor of a small airplane getting ready for a tandem sky diving session?

All three of my adult children have jumped from planes and my daughter decided that it was something I should try.  She offered it to me as a birthday present and after a good deal of inner turmoil, I agreed.   I am still not sure of my motivation, however.

I do believe in conquering my fears and gathering experiences. I have read that free-falling is a mystical experience and a way to help change thinking patterns.

Carrie purchased the video for me and on it you can see the two of us sitting on the floor of this teeny single engine plane chatting.  But as we neared the 10,000 foot altitude, and the door of the plane opened, the blood drained from both of our faces.  As I was clipped to the instructor, I am seen saying “I am petrified.” But I put my foot out onto the side strut of the plane and as instructed, I leaned out and then I was in free fall.

What a glorious experience.  Pure joy. I did not feel like I was falling to earth, but rather I felt like I was flying.  Maybe it was the very unusual physical sensations or maybe it was the total release from all of the fear I felt in the plane.  And I am tremendously proud that I conquered the fear and found the inner courage.

The first step was the hardest.  But I decided that this was something I was going to do. So then it was a matter of confidence and preparation.  I listened carefully to the pre-jump instructions and prepared myself psychologically for the event—yoga breathing and all of that. But I made up my mind that this was possible.  And I jumped.

It is my new metaphor for life.

Christine Jacobs is an experienced corporate executive and a co-founder of Leading Women. Read her full bio.


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