As humans, the things that scare us are vast, varied, and complex. Fear is universal, but each of us has unique reasons and versions of the things that scare us. In today’s episode, host John Laurito shares his own scary experience while vacationing in Maui: cliff diving. He also shares how doing the things that scare you helps you get out of your comfort zone, overcome your fears, and open you up to new opportunities for growth.
[0:21] John’s frightful experience
[7:06] Surround yourself with people that will help you do the scary stuff
[8:35] Start small
[9:53] Do the things that scare you
John Over the last two decades, I’ve been on an insatiable quest to learn everything I can about leadership. What makes the best leaders so good? After running companies small and large over the last 20 years, today I speak on stages all across the world to audiences who are interested in that same question. My name is John Laurito. I’m your host, and I invite you to join me on this journey as we explore this very topic and what makes the best leader so good. Welcome to tomorrow’s leader.
John All right. Welcome to today’s episode of Tomorrow’s Leader, where we dove deep into all things leader-related, related to leading yourself and leading others. I’m John Laurito, your host. Great to be back with you again today. Today is about leading yourself and this also will tie in to how you lead other people. And it’s about overcoming fear. And recently, wow, I had a real scary, frightful experience that I brought on myself.
John I was out in Hawaii with my kiddos, as many of you know, and we did something out there and my son and I that just absolutely was terrifying. We got if you’ve been out to y, you know, there’s unbelievable waterfalls all over the place and you’re driving and you take a little hike and you go into this waterfall and you see it and you can jump in and swim at the base of the waterfall. So we did that a few different times, which is a blast. And we noticed on one of them this a couple of teenagers climbing up the side of this kind of waterfall and taking this trail up all the way to the top of next to the waterfall and and jumping off.
John And I’m like, wow. And Nick right away is like, Let’s do that. And I’m thinking, Oh, yeah, okay, sure. So we end up going, Nick gets up there first and I’m watching him and I’m still in the water. So I’m at the base of the waterfall. I’m watching him up there. And this waterfall, I mean, it’s not you know, it’s not 50 feet or 100 feet. This thing’s probably I’m going to say 25 feet. It’s really not enormously high. But when you’re up there 25 feet at the top of a waterfall, it feels like it’s 50 or 100 feet. So for those of you have jumped off a high distance, you know that ten feet feels like 20 or 30 feet. Well, 25 feet feels like 50 or 75 feet at least.
John So it is really high. But from the base, I’m looking up at him and he’s standing on the side and he’s not gone for the longest time and he’s scared and everything like that. I get it. Believe me, I get it. And I’m watching him. And he finally musters up the courage to do it. He jumps off successful and super happy. He’s like our dad. Your turn. I’m thinking, oh, my God. I just. I don’t. I don’t know, man. I just don’t even know if, like, that’s going to climb the side of a waterfall with it. So I end up getting, you know, going with it and start climbing the side of this waterfall and climbing and taking the trail up. And you’ve got to go to the top end of one, one side, and then cross the stream or whatnot.
John A river that’s filling up the waterfall and go to the other side in the sun that I finally get over there and I get toward the end, toward this edge, toward this cliff. And I am terrified. I’m going to be honest with you. I mean, I am terrified. I am looking over this thing. And first of all, as I’m up there and even when I was down at the base, I realized that I saw that there’s a lot of jagged rocks like this is not, you know, diving off of a platform or a diving board. This is natural manmade. And you’ve got all these jagged rocks. And I’m thinking, okay, so you really need to push yourself out. You need to jump out.
John You can’t just fall down because you run the risk of like dropping on these rocks. I mean, literally and I’m thinking, okay, well, that’d be one heck of a story, huh? And so. I’m standing up there. I got to tell you, I’m just I’m getting nervous thinking about it right now as I’m reenacting this story. But it was terrifying. I mean, terrifying and to the point where physically my legs were shaking and I just felt weak. Like I’m envisioning, okay, there was this and its part of it is slippery up there. It’s wet. So you and you don’t have anything to hold on to either. It’s not like you can hold on to a tree branch as you stand on the edge of nothing to keep your balance. And if you lost your footing and slipped, I mean, honestly, you you’d crash against the side of the wall. I mean, you’d get jagged rocks out there.
John I mean, it would be really bad. So part of this, this was dangerous. Probably not something I should have been doing at all. But I’m watching and I’m sitting there and now this crowd is down below and everybody’s forming and they’re starting to, you know, come on and jump up. I’m thinking, oh, come on. I don’t I don’t need this. You know what I’m I’m thinking, okay, maybe I’ll just turn around and just forget the whole thing. And whenever he needs to. Cliff dove, Cliff, jump up and give it a dove. No way. Just going to jump. I mean, I’m just that’s I just want to safely make it in the water. So bottom line is I get, you know, I’m up there, I’m here and all these I’m just thinking, I don’t think I can do this. I think I literally need to walk back down.
John And as I’m really contemplating that, do I walk back down and just forget this whole thing, this little girl, probably, I’m going to say eight, maybe nine years old, comes up behind me and is waiting there and I turn around and look at her. I said, Are you are you going to jump off this? She said, Yeah. I said, You are. Okay. Well, here you go. You’re my guest. Be my guest. You go. She walks right up to the edge without hesitation and jumps off. And I’m like, What? Are you kidding? How does this little eight, nine year old girl muster up the courage? I mean, fearless. Fearless. There was no hesitation at all. She looked at it as exciting, as fun. I’m like, Are you kidding me? So anyway, I’m like, okay, if she can do it, I can do it. I step back up to that edge. Now I’ve got everybody, you know, cheering and looking and, you know, God job, Knicks down below. Tell me to jump.
John Now I’ve got more confidence because I just saw this little girl do it safely. And I will tell you, had I not seen that, I don’t know if I could have done it, but something in my mind was like, okay, if she did it, I can do it. And I just took the leap and jumped and I am here survived to tell the story on a podcast but was interested. Interesting. A couple of things. One is I realized at that moment how important if I was by myself like, you know, our Nick, I don’t think I would have done it honestly. So how important is that support that you have around you to do something scary? Oh, my gosh. It is so much easier. It’s not it’s not not that you don’t have the fear, but it allows you to overcome the fear and manage. It doesn’t eliminate it, but it helps you to do the things that you need to do to overcome the fear.
John Now, what’s interesting is we then went on and did it again. We went to another one and did it again. And and the next time was significantly easier. Later I walked right to the edge and jumped right off. There was no hesitation. The other one, it took me probably 10 minutes, 15 minutes at least, of standing up there the next time was so much easier, wasn’t that? It wasn’t scary, but I could manage my fear that much better. So there were a couple of takeaways. One is, you know when you think about and we’ve all done that like you’re scared of a roller coaster and you see an 8 or 9-year-old kid go on, you’re like, okay if they can do it, I can do it. That’s part of it, right?
John You surround yourself with people that will help you do the scary stuff. And just think about this. If you continue to do scary stuff, those scary things do no no longer scare you. They’re not scary anymore. In your comfort zone is expanding but a big part of this of we fight the fight ourselves and we’re just going up and climbing a rock cliff by myself or even with somebody who, you know, might and might not necessarily be overcoming the fear more than I am. If I’m just fighting that fight myself, then it’s a harder battle to fight, right? But if I surround myself with people, you know, niggas cheer me on this girl who does it, it demonstrates how easy it is. People around that are cheering me on and I jumped in and there’s like, this applause.
John And yeah, I’m like, you know, felt great. And it was significantly easier to do it again. And had we been able to, we would have done it again and again and again and again. And then it would have been like nothing. Right? So again, it just reminded me how important it is to push yourself out of your comfort zone, do things that scare you, but don’t do it just by yourself. Grab the people around you who are going to support you and help you do it and manage that fear and help you get over that first hump. Because once you do it, once, it’s going to be a lot easier if public speaking scares you. Let me tell you, and I’ve been there big time, just get in front of a smaller group, start with five people, do a toast at a party or something.
John Get out of your comfort zone, do something small that still scares you. And the next time it’ll scare you a little bit less and then a little bit less. And then it’s like, okay, let me speak in front of 20 people, then let me speak in front of 50 people, then actually let me speak for a longer period of time. It’s little steps that get it easier and easier. My guess is that I’ve been able to start with a cliff that wasn’t 25 feet, that was five feet, and then do eight feet and then do 12 feet and then do 15, then do 20, then do 25. It would have been getting up to 25 would have been really easy because it’s small steps. So I didn’t have that option. But had I done that, that would have been another easy way to overcome it. So don’t think about this 25-foot cliff.
John That is the only thing I go from zero to that look for. Maybe a smaller step. There are all different kinds of ways that can help you manage your fear. Again, you can’t eliminate fear, but you can manage through it. You can manage your ability to handle it. And when you do that, wow, that’s such a confidence booster, right? We were high five and Nick and I was super pumped. It was exciting. We faced a fear. We overcame it our whole day. We were like high on life right after that. It was amazing. So get yourself feeling like that. Think about doing one thing that scares you this week or today. Make a phone call that scares you to somebody who intimidates you, whatever it is.
John The stuff in your world that’s on your chicken list, right? People that you’re afraid to talk to or call decisions you’re afraid to make things, ventures you’re afraid to do, financial decision you’re afraid to make, whatever it is, do something that scares you. And I promise you, your comfort level will expand, and your comfort zone will expand. And that’s part of growth. That’s part of what makes you better. You. Better leader yourself and you a better leader of other people. So hope this help fund story. Cool accomplishment. More than happy to tell you more about it if you want.
John But in the meantime like, share, subscribe, all that kind of good stuff. Let me know how your days go and let me know how leadership is going for you. And go down below, give a five-star review and we’ll talk to you next time. Thanks. Thanks for joining us on today’s episode of Tomorrow’s Leader. For suggestions or inquiries about having me at your next event or personal coaching, reach me at John@johnlaurito.com. Thanks, lead on!