Jumping Out of Airplanes


By Mark E. Smith

Have you noticed that when it comes to making big life decisions, there’s rarely a “right time,” and that those who wait for the right time, rarely end up making such life changes? Why is that?

Typically because there’s never a right time when it comes to making big life changes. Yet, so many of us create right-time rules that seem responsible, but really prevent us from ever making big moves – because the fabricated right time never comes. People set the most unrealistic prerequisites that they ultimately sabotage what’s truly important, never making big life moves. I’ve had kids – there’s never a right time, but it always remarkably works.

My fiancée and I, as responsible 40-somethings with kids – one off to college, the other, second grade – have had the “right time” all figured out. Being bicoastal, we went between the two coasts for almost two years, ultimately planning every “right time” detail for her move to the East Coast. Details surrounding houses and dogs and kids and finances went on and on, and every time we tried to figure out the “right time,” something logistical wasn’t the right time. We began in May working on the move with August being the “right time.” However, based on our right-time ideals, certain logistical aspects simply hadn’t worked out. What we’re we to do? Put off the move, put off the wedding, ration our love until the intangible “right time” somehow appeared, maybe next spring?

No, we decided the only right time was now. I mean, really, with houses, dogs, kids, finances and on and on, there’s no right time! We just had to do it. We didn’t have it all figured out, but got creative and focused on what was most important, what was at our core desire: to bring our family together. So, on a Sunday night, we booked one way plane tickets, and declared three weeks from then was the “right time” to move. Of course, it wasn’t logistically the right time – but it never would be! – but it was emotionally the right time.

And, that’s what the right time comes down to – that is, are you emotionally ready to make a life changing decision? I don’t care how responsible you think you are, if you play the waiting-for-the-right-time game, you will almost never accomplish your goals. Accomplishment comes from doing, not waiting. You have to have the courage and the confidence to go for it.

See, there’s only one way to skydive – you jump out of an airplane. If you wait, you just end up back on the ground, sitting in an airplane seat. However, if you want to experience the awesome thrill of skydiving, you just have to jump.

Life is like skydiving, if you wait too long, opportunity passes you by. However, if you know what you want, and you take a healthy leap of faith, you’ll be astounded at the rewards that you experience.

Surfing Mavericks


By Mark E. Smith

In 1967, three surfers and their German shepherd, Maverick, hiked down to Pillar Point in Northern California, discovering among the biggest waves on Earth, questionable whether they could be surfed?

As the three surfers paddled out into the seemingly impossible, literally risking their lives, they soon realized that Maverick, who loved swimming pools, was beside them, paddling along in the Pacific toward monster waves. Alarmed for the dog’s safety, they promptly returned to shore, tying him up, protecting the dog from his own fearlessness. Then, the three friends paddled out, opting to surf smaller waves off to the side, avoiding the giant waves Maverick was heading toward.

Gradually, word spread about the insanely large waves off of Pillar Point, where till this day, the best big-wave surfers in the world try their luck. …And, so “Mavericks” was named after the dog – an iconic surf destination off of Pillar Point.

However, it can be surmised that the legend of Maverick, the fearless dog, didn’t end with a renown surf location named after him. See, in California surf culture, there’s an acronym, F.I.D.L.E.R, which means, F- it, Dog, life’s a risk. In other words, have no fear, and just go for it – life’s short, so live it.

At some point, I’ve all but stopped having fear, worrying or even stressing about pretty much everything. This doesn’t mean I’m irresponsible or don’t care. To the contrary, I’m ultra-responsible and take what I do very seriously. But, I don’t fear, worry or stress about much of anything. I’m like Maverick the dog – that is, I just go for it.

In a few weeks, I’m saddling up in my power chair and hitting the skies once again – Philly to LA to Vancouver to Phoenix, then back to Philly, with a monster itinerary packed in. And, while my gracious staff has covered every possible arrangement, ensuring that my travels are as planned out as possible, I’m arguably the least concerned. I have my plane tickets, my power chair, my passport and a debit card. FIDLAR – I’m ready to roll! With so much on my itinerary, aspects will go wrong. But, when they do, I’ll handle them. I have absolute confidence in being able to address whatever comes my way. I’m like Maverick the dog, just happy to be paddling into an awesome adventure.

People often think that fear, worry and stress are signs that one cares. However, the opposite is true. Fear, worry and stress say only one thing: you don’t feel in control. We know that people who perform at peak levels – surgeons, athletes, soldiers – often have lower heart rates when in a seeming situation of extreme pressure, moving to the opposite of fear, worry and stress. Fear, worry and stress typically hurts us, it doesn’t help us.

I think about relationships a lot because they are the cornerstone of our lives. And, one key I’ve learned is that feeding unsubstantiated fear, worry and stress into a relationship will destroy it. I mean, if your partner is demonstrating absolute consistent love toward you, don’t question it with fear, worry or stress, but embrace it with security, trust and comfort. If we’re going to experience life-changing love, we can’t question and hold back on an amazing relationship. Rather, we need a bit of FIDLAR in our hearts, and just go for it.

Indeed, we live in a culture where too many hold their lives back based on fear and its corresponding emotions. However, if we want to truly live our dreams – pursue an ideal career, live in the locale we wish, have a breathtaking relationship – there’s only one dog to follow, so to speak, and that’s Maverick. The best opportunities in life are like thunderous, towering waves. Most will fear and avoid them, but those seeking true success won’t back down. Instead, they prove true “Mavericks” by yelling, FIDLAR!, and paddling in the direction of big waves and a courageous heart.