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Fear Factor: Lessons Learned From My Favorite Twelve-Year-Old

I’m here at the Cape with two of my favorite guys, including Charles, the young man who turned twelve last Saturday.

Part of his birthday celebration was out first parasailing outing – and his dad made the plans for this great adventure without a whole lot of input from the kid! 

Now, when I was his age and, for that matter, throughout my life, I have not been exactly adventurous.  As a kid, I balked at jumping off the dock into the waters of Lake Shawnee and the arms of my father waiting in the water.  When I was doing a program that included a ropes course, it was all I could do to rappel down a cliff, in spite of the totally redundant safety equipment.  And last Saturday, when I agreed to the parasailing thing I was asking myself, “Pat, what are you thinking?”

As things turned out, I had to double up with Charles for this little birthday adventure.  As we were strapped in waiting for the crew to let out the rope for our take off, he decided he did not want to do this.  The captain was great with all of the kids and teens on the trip, and he got Charles to agree to go out for the first twenty feet.  If he didn’t want to continue, they’d pull us back in.

Fair enough.

We got out the twenty or so feet, and I thought he was fine with it, so I gave the captain the thumbs up and, whoosh!  It was up, up and away! 

And Charles was pissed!  He was not really OK with this at all!   But as we floated several hundred feet above the water, there wasn’t much to do except try to get him to understand he was not in any danger.  And wow!  Look at the view! 

As the boat got smaller and smaller, he wasn’t having any part of my attempts to reassure him.  Even after we landed safely and later that evening when we eating birthday cake, he wasn’t really over it.

“But, Charles,” I asked, “Aren’t you glad now that you actually did the sail?  You can show your friends the pictures when you get home!”


The good part of this whole thing was that, while I was at least as reluctant as Charles to go up, his fear made me forget my own.  Trying to convince him that it was really fun convinced me! 

Then, the next day, he told his father and I that he wanted to go parasailing again.  And on our second outing, he went up twice – once with his dad and once with me.  And this time, he loved every minute of the ride!

And I started to think about all of the things in life I was afraid to do and just did – leaving home to move to New York, taking a job in Washington that was way over my head, getting my real estate license, and looking for a book publisher. 

Oh!  And did I include buying my first place?  So what did I learn about this experience that I could apply to my real estate practice?

  • If you push people into doing something they are not ready to do, they will get pissed off at you.
  • If, later, they agree that it was a good idea, they’ll love you for it.
  • Lots of things are scary the first time you do them, including buying a first place and taking your first parasail ride.


Comment balloon 14 commentsPatricia Kennedy • August 04 2008 06:27AM
Fear Factor: Lessons Learned From My Favorite Twelve-Year-Old
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