We build businesses. Even little ones.

We build businesses.
Even little ones.

SHOULD you jump? WILL the net appear?

Every now and again, you’ll hear the expression, “Jump, and the net will appear.”

This is meant to mean that when you are in a situation where you want to make a big change and that big change involves a lot of (real or perceived) risk – such as jumping off a cliff – you should take the risk.

While you cannot see a net now – and indeed, the net is not there now – it will “appear” when you take the jump. (Causality, while unstated, is implied.)

For obvious reasons, some people have trouble with this advice.

I was asked the other day by a person whose situation I know well, whether or not “jumping” would be good in her situation. She feels like she’s been hearing this advice everywhere she goes, like “Bad Wolf” in Doctor Who.

All she’s hearing these days is, “Jump, and the net will appear.”

Everyone’s jump is different.

Maybe your “jump” is stopping one-on-one client work, even though it’s been your gravy train for years, to focus on, well, something else.

Maybe your “jump” is leaving your lout of a husband, and you’re currently incapable of supporting yourself financially.

Maybe your “jump” is getting out of academia, even though it’s the safe option, the tried and true. You’d rather perish than publish at this point.

Maybe your “jump” is resigning from your job even though your ittybiz doesn’t feel even kinda sorta ready to sustain itself.

Maybe your “jump” is quitting all those affiliate and joint venture promotions where you’re promoting people you don’t really like, but they pay really well. They pay half your salary, but they’re Not Really Nice People, and you’re thinking of cutting the apron strings.

So…

SHOULD you jump? WILL the net appear?

To answer this question, we have to look at what the metaphor means.

On top of your cliff, you have a choice. This jump/net axiom is not used in situations where being on the top of the cliff is untenable. In order for this analogy to work, you really must be able to stay on the top of the cliff indefinitely.

Maybe you’ll be miserable, but you COULD stay.

(If you can’t stay, well, it doesn’t really matter if the net appears, does it? You’re jumping regardless.)

So, you’re on the top of your cliff and something about being on top of this cliff is unsatisfying to you.

Jumping off your cliff carries a lot of risk, and presumably, a lot of reward.

A net would eliminate your risk.

But it only really eliminates your very worst risk – in this case, your risk of death.

Obviously, in the case of quitting coaching or academia, you’re not going to actually die, so it’s metaphorical death.

Let’s temporarily redefine “death” here, then, as “something incredibly bad, and from which it would be impossible to ever recover“.

So a “net” means that you won’t “die”.

OK.

But it doesn’t mean you won’t get hurt.

SHOULD you jump? WILL the net appear?

If you quit coaching or academia, you’re not going to metaphorically die. The worst that could really happen is that you’d experience a few years of unpleasantness. You’re going to get metaphorically injured.

A net can’t protect you from that.

If you leave your job, you’re not going to metaphorically die. The worst that could really happen is that you’d experience a few years of unpleasantness. You’re going to get metaphorically injured.

A net can’t protect you from that.

If you stop shilling for the Not Very Nice Girls, you’re not going to metaphorically die. The worst that could really happen is that you’d experience a few years of unpleasantness. You’re going to get metaphorically injured.

A net can’t protect you from that.

So a “net”, which is there to eliminate your possibility of “death”, actually doesn’t matter, because this situation is not life or death.

It’s a moot point.

And I don’t mean it’s literally not life or death. It’s not even figuratively life or death.

Remember “death” here means “something incredibly bad, and from which it would be impossible to ever recover”.

“I had to sell the minivan and I was really embarrassed and probably lost some opportunities that I won’t get back” is not death.

It’s injury.

As such, a “net” won’t protect you from it.

So, it actually doesn’t matter whether the net appears or not. You’re not going to die, and the net would only stop you from dying. So a net wouldn’t help you anyway.

But you notice how they say “the net will appear” and not “the seven-figure book contract and a harem full of sprites will appear”?

Yeah. It’s a NET. It’s not a winning lottery ticket.

Nets in this context are often referred to as “safety nets”.

They’re not “luxury nets” or “improve my standard of living nets” or “make sure I never feel another ounce of pain nets”.

It’s an air bag, not a free Maserati.

A net won’t stop you from getting battered and bruised and injured.

It won’t stop you from hitting every rock on the way down.

It won’t stop you from disfiguring yourself it the process.

It will stop you from dying.

So, in answer to the question, “Should you jump?”…

Jump when you can handle getting battered and bruised and injured.

Jump when you can handle hitting every rock on the way down.

Jump when disfiguring yourself would be terrible, but survivable.

Or jump when you have no choice.

But don’t let the shimmery coaches or your mother or your sister or your newly actualized best friend tell you to jump if you’re not ready to face the battery.

The jumpier-than-thou won’t be there with you when you’re hitting the rocks.

Only you will be there when you’re hitting the rocks, so jump when you feel strong enough to survive them.