The Thrill Of The Plunge

During my whitewater rafting trip, I had the opportunity to take a plunge. Literally, off the side of a cliff.

The plunge was scary. The height from which we jumped seemed like it may shatter a bone.

Yet after I jumped off of the ledge, it was thrilling. There was a sense of freedom knowing I was able to plunge 40 feet and come out unscathed.

How similar is this to our leadership journey?

The decision to climb up the cliff was mine. No one forced me or coerced me. I willingly made the journey to a spot I knew would be difficult.

Our path into leadership starts the same way. We make a choice to begin leading. We take the responsibility of leadership and we walk with it.

Eventually we get to a point where we can’t go any further. We look around and try to decide what to do next.

At this point, we realize there’s only one way to continue. We’ve got to take a jump into the unknown.

Taking The Plunge

The unknown is always scary. We think of everything negative that could happen.


These outcomes are either far-fetched and unlikely (Death) or they’re greatly exaggerated (Failure and humiliation).

We stop thinking of what positive outcomes could take place.


Honestly, these are the outcomes that happen more likely than not when we decide to go into the unknown. We experience joy, success, fulfillment when we walk headlong into the unknown.

Why? Because we were created to take on challenges and to discover new frontiers. We were designed with a sense of exploration and risk taking.

It’s been instilled in us!

While I was scared to jump from the 100 foot cliff (Notice how the cliff grew from 40 foot to 100 foot, the rafting company said the stories will grow), I did it anyways. It was an experience I will never forget.

Leadership will open up such experiences to you as well. You’ll get to a point where the next decision seems risky. The question is, do you take the plunge or turn around?

There wouldn’t have been this memorable experience if I had decided to stay on the ledge, unwilling to plunge into the flowing water below. Instead, there would have been shame as I turned around and walked back down.

That’s where the true danger is.

In turning around we give up the chance to shine. We give up the hope of excitement. We give up our ability to experience something new.

Question: What do you need to plunge into today? What could you experience if you took action on it? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • I’m plunging into a book project this year.

  • Joe I’m staring at the jump and wondering when to actually take it. I know it’s coming, but I’m trying to trust in the timing.

    By my nature, I’m a jumper.

    I’m learning the difference between risk and recklessness!

    Thanks for encouraging the plunge!

    • Good point Matt. Sometimes we can be too willing to jump. Discernment is the key.

  • The longer you stay looking over the edge the harder it is to jump. When I go cliff jumping, I always made sure the water is deep enough and than I run and jump. No looking over the edge, it just makes it harder.

    • So true Paul. The longer we stand at the edge, the more fear can creep in. Jump and enjoy!

    • Steve Pate

      For sure!

  • Steve Pate

    did you see other’s do it first or where you the first one?

    My plunge came last year, and I’m in the fall right now, I was offered a role on growing a new non-profit last year, we as a family decided to jump and we’re loving journey right now and we’re excited to hit the water to tell others they can do it too!

    • There were so many of us there that I wasn’t first. We had to follow in a line, single file, until we got to the jump point.

      Congrats on taking the leap and enjoying what’s come from it so far.

  • I plunged into a personal year-long project after I graduated last May (and like Paul mentioned, didn’t look over the edge too much), but today I’ve been putting off plunging into reading a heavy/dry/academic book on how we manage our attention.

    Thankfully, I think your post is just the kick in the ass I need to get started 🙂

  • Joe, I had a double whammy last year.

    The first was to get my book published. I had to be vulnerable in the writing as it also revealed stuff about myself that I was uncomfortable about. Stuff about my past that were holding me back.

    My second jump was a higher cliff. I promise it was way over 100-foot deep. Note the use of deep, I had been peering over it for long! I quit my job. I was struggling with some issues that I felt went against my values. In addition, I felt humanity had crept out of the organizational backbone.

    The free-fall is great, because we (my wife and I) have surrendered to the calling to do bigger things… And to live by faith, literally. That is magical!

    • Those are two huge plunges to take Kimunya. What have you seen accomplished because you took the jump?

      • The book is out though not with its frustrations and all. I can’t launch just yet because the books have not hit my local bookseller 🙁

        The biggest accomplishment has been a shift in my mindset. This jump is in progress and I have to fly or pray the plunge-pool is deep enough! I now see opportunities where none existed before. My confidence is growing, even though I sometimes feel like sand has been thrown straight at my face. I will push on…

  • I need to take the plunge and pick up the hustle on my side business. EVERY success I had last year in my coaching business was a result of being outside my comfort zone!

    • Awesome Tom. Thanks for sharing your experience. Why’d you let the hustle subside when you were seeing success?

      • I took some time to focus on getting healthy. I’ve turned the tide on that now, and am feeling great!

        • Glad to hear you’re doing well on the healthy part Tom. We need to make sure we’re well before anything else!

          • Thanks, Joe. That was my thought – if I’m not around for my son then my side work doesn’t matter. I’m down almost 40 lbs at this point and feel great.

  • When we fear something we often focus on the immediate. What we should do is have sights on our future. When we hesitate we risk the future not the present. As ever, Martin

  • I can’t believe you jumped off a 200 foot cliff:) Your amazing (and the story grows). hehehe

    Taking the first step is often the most challenging for people, due to fear. But once you make the leap we realizable it’s not as bad as we thought. Great thoughts!

  • Great analog on leadership. Take the plunge everybody.

    Personally, I hate heights, but I love it. Why? Cause it makes me feel alive. My mind is so filled with fear that I can’t help but be completely present in the moment. I’m not worried or thinking about anything in the fear, just the potential fall ahead of me.

    If you are like me you will both love and cringe at this video:

    • Goodness gracious… I watched that video and it made me queasy just watching it. Those people have some nerves of steel. I’m glad they didn’t take A plunge.