By Mark E. Smith

OK, I know what you’re thinking: Mark’s back in Vegas again? Publicly, I guess it does seem like I’m in Vegas a lot, but really it’s only a few weekends per year. …OK, so, yes, I’m in Vegas again – but I love this place! And, this time is different, namely because I’m with my girlfriend and our two daughters – sort of like the Brady Bunch, minus four kids, Alice, Sam the Butcher, and Cousin Oliver. But, really, we’re in Vegas for a three-day weekend on a much more serious note: Personal growth as individuals and as a group.

Our daughters are moving toward 14 and 16, mine being the older. It’s a pivotal time in their lives, where we want them to be empowered, to know their amazing potentials as strong, poised, confident young ladies. In this messed-up culture that sends airbrushed, cosmetically-enhanced messages that no woman is ever good enough, we say, nonsense – every woman is more than enough, perfect as-is, capable of whatever she dreams. And, this is why we’re in Vegas, encouraging our daughters to step of the 108th floor of the Stratosphere, plummeting 855 feet to the ground.

…Well, maybe I should clarify the jumping off of the building part. See, the Stratosphere, on the outreach of the Vegas strip, is a replica of Seattle’s Space Needle. The only real difference is that if you jump off the Space Needle, you die; whereas, with the Stratosphere, you’re perched on a ledge, wearing a harness, and as you leap, control cables guide you safely to the ground, slowing you to your feet at the end. Yet, despite the safety factors, stepping off of that ledge on the 108th floor, 855 feet off of the ground, and virtually free falling, takes a huge amount of courage and confidence. And, I explain this to our girls at dinner the night before:

At points in our lives, we each find ourselves perched on a ledge. If we have the courage to jump – maybe it’s a career step, or starting or ending a relationship, or any aspect of life that requires us to stretch our comfort zone – we grow. However, if we don’t have the courage to make those leaps, our lives stagnate, we go nowhere. Both of you girls are doing an amazing job in school, with huge life potential ahead of you. But, you’ll need to take leaps of courage along the way to do it. Let the literal Stratosphere SkyJump be a lesson in life, where you’ll carry it with you, knowing that you have the courage and strength to take big leaps in life whenever needed….

After the jump, I tell the girls how proud of them I am, and they share how the scariest part was preparing for the jump, that once they summoned the courage to step off of the ledge, the liberation of flying through the air was amazing.

Really, for all us, no matter our backgrounds or challenges, there’s a lesson to be learned here, isn’t there? Success in all areas of life is all but guaranteed, as long as we have the courage to take initial leaps out of our comfort zones. A lot of times challenges are easy, but stepping off of the ledge, into a seemingly new territory is the hard part. Yet, when we summon the courage to simply step off of the ledge, our lives always move to the next level. As I told the girls, just jump!

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