RollercoasterOn holidays in Portugal, I brought two kids to the local water park – my daughter Nicole and Linda’s niece – Lauren. We found a parking spot for our towels, under the shade of a huge Pine tree. It was the only way to avoid becoming spot-welded to the grass in the intense heat. As I was unpacking my novel, Lauren, a great kid who never asks for anything, said:

“I’d love to go on that roller coaster.” Fine by me. If she wanted to risk her young life, who was I to intervene?

“OK Lauren.  That’s grand. I’ll go over and meet you at the end.” She stood, staring:

“But, I can’t go on it on my own!”

“Eh, why not?”

“Nobody goes on a roller coaster on their own. You’d look like a loser.”

 Plan B began to quickly form in my mind.

 “OK, Nicole, you’re on duty. Both of you can go on the roller coaster. Problem sorted. I’ll stay here and mind the bags.” (in case anyone tried to steal my Factor 75 sunscreen or Dolphin beach towel).

“No way. I’m not going on it unless you get on it too.” (this from my cheeky daughter).

“Now girls, this is ridiculous. Of course you can go on your own. You are not little children anymore” (hoping to guilt them into leaving me out of the equation). And then, as a kicker: “You’ll be grand. I trust both of you. 100%.”

“But why won’t you try it?” (Lauren, unconvinced, that this was a genuine effort to ‘empower the children’).

“Because he’s a complete Chicken” (Nicole, sensing bullshit).

“No, I’m not. I’m just a bit tired. It’s probably all the driving.”

“Chicken.” (Nicole)

“Big Scary Chicken.” (Lauren).

Pre-Death:
15 minutes later, as we near the top of the queue, I’m starting to feel like an inmate on Death Row who’s lost a last minute appeal for a stay of execution. We get strapped in so tight, it feels like a total body blood pressure check. Then we start the agonizingly slow climb to the top of the rail. One Mammy, in the seat in front of us, starts some low volume screaming in anticipation of what lies ahead.  We climbed so high, I could almost see the Bailey Lighthouse in the distance (just over 1,000 miles, slightly north east). That image lasted for about .7 seconds. Then, Lamb of Jesus, the descent. The kids were laughing their heads off while I’m gripping the safety bar tighter than an epileptic pole dancer. Despite rumours to the contrary, I certainly was not crying. There’s quite a lot of dust in the atmosphere at that altitude and I have sensitive eyes. Three climbs and descents later (into water and into a pitch black tunnel) and it was over.

Way Out:
On the way out, I walked past a ton of nervous mums/dads on the queue. I had a slight swagger and was trying to make eye contact to communicate: “You’ve no idea what’s at the top of that line”. Ah, yes, superiority. A thing of beauty. I wanted to boast: “I survived the Roller Coaster” but it’s impossible to find a T-Shirt stall selling customized slogans when you need one.

Executive Coaching:
 In the Executive Coaching arena, I encounter a range of personal issues. Facing their worst fear, confronting something that really bothers them, makes clients feel good about themselves. Bravery is not the absence of fear, but the will to acknowledge and confront it.  In marked contrast, sometimes clients decide not to do something. They make a conscious decision to walk away from a relationship or a work-related issue, to mentally erase this from their worry list.  Surprisingly, both strategies (confront or decide not to confront) can work well. The killer position is to remain in the ‘don’t know’ space. Sometimes for years.

Procrastination is a form of self-torture.
Don’t do it to yourself.  Get on that roller coaster or walk away.  Just don’t stand underneath listening. Because, the only screams you hear will be your own

 

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