The Reality of Taking Risks and Leap of Faith

I have been inspired by a dear friend of mine with whom I have not had a chance to connect and talk with in quite some time, but he is a principal in a neighboring school district. He is one who pushes my thinking time and time again.

Recently, he posted a piece on Facebook where he listed all the flaws that he has to try to break down the perception of perfect lives on Facebook that we often see. A few weeks earlier he had shared with me a newsletter he sent his staff that opened my eyes for being grateful.

I also went and watched the movie Wonder which had my parent brain spinning. A post about this movie coming shortly.

Additionally, in recent weeks some pretty tragic events have happened to students of mine and to families. Life is never easy. Often times in these moments of tragedy we have a lightbulb moment where we pause our current mode of operation to reset the clock and think about our own lives. At least we should do this and not just gloss over to the next event.

This is shared to let you know that many events have lead to this moment of thought and deep reflection.


Anyone who has followed my journey knows that I have taken a leap of faith by leaving a school that I loved for a new job. During that time I also launched a nonprofit to go after my dream vision to how I believe learning and education should operate. Somewhere in the mix of all this I am still after that book of mine, coaching sports, trying to be a good husband and father, and finding time for myself and health.

It is hard. It is impossible most days.

I am in the crux of change and risk taking. The excitement of the launch of a new non-profit has worn off. The craziness of a new job has died down a little.

And here I am.

Thousands of time in my life I have provided the advice to take risks, to take the leap as Seth Godin suggests to family members, students in my classroom, teachers that I work with, friends, my own children, players I coach, and anyone else who I am not including.

Here I am still in midair of my own two leaps. I leaped for a new career change and leaped for the nonprofit. This was not intentional to do both, but it happened. Life happens.

Truth be told as I work to land back on the ground after taking the leap to create a ruckus in the world I realized something that often goes underreported when you read about risks and taking a leap of faith.

It sucks. It is hard. I have dealt with more stress in these last few months than I care to admit.

I don’t sleep well. I toss and turn. I worry. I sweat. I panic.

I get agitated over small things. I get angry at things in my life that I should not, but the stress bubbles over to my children, my job, and other things that develop. If not anger, then the feeling of blah where you get lost in your own head and cannot seem to navigate the maze to get out.

I think that there is a misperception on the realities of taking a risk. Despite the word “risk” we are often comforted by the notion that things will work out due to your courage. Things will be better because you will learn from your mistakes. You will be a better person because you are doing things nobody else is willing to do. We are told these things over and over and over.

While all of these statements do hold truth, I think what often does not get addressed is the sacrifice and frustrations that come with it.

I am 4 months into my nonprofit and here are some realities.

  1. I leave my kids to go work with other kids. This is flawed.
  2. I spend countless hours on social media campaigns, curriculum development, cleanup, teaching class, network meetings, and maintenance of equipment which cause me more time away from home or time spent with my children.
  3. Due to trying to keep the nonprofit going while holding down a full time job I work pretty much from  4 am – 9 pm almost daily. It is all I think about. This is not good for mental health.
  4. I took a risk giving up a robotics coaching job to launch the nonprofit and so far I have lost money every single month to keep the doors open. I am sacrificing our family finances when we face debt of our own, a foundation issue on our house, and just day to day finances that never seem to add up properly.
  5. I treat my mind and body like crap. Because I work all the time it is a constant barrage of garbage food. Hence the reason I have gained 50+ pounds and feel even more lethargic.

I share this with you to be open and honest. I think it is important that we continue to push our boundaries. We must continue to challenge ourselves to try new things.

BUT…..

We must remember that not all things work out. Sometimes we have to realize that when we leap we might not land on solid ground.

I have big decisions facing me in the very near future. I have to begin to look at life in a bigger picture. One thing I know for sure is that if I were to pass in the night unexpectedly nobody would really give a rip about the work I do. What would matter would be family and friends. What would matter would be memories of stories of connections with people, not a blog post or some new class I launched.

My kids are growing up too fast. One day they will be out of the house. These days I have with them are so important. I was looking up old blog posts and found this one

Things I learned from making a volcano with my kids  and this one and this one about geocaching.

Time goes by fast. My son is soon to be 13, Addy is not far behind, and Ava is rocking her 6th year in this world.

My health is important. When all you do is buzz around you build a vicious cycle of bad eating and habits. This does not lead the a lifestyle that allows a person to be at their peak performance.

We all know that we must not work all the time. I cannot express how many times I get angry at myself for sitting on the couch with my daughter and have a laptop or my phone on my lap and wonder why she always wants to be on my phone. I can get angry with her or realize I am simply modeling a behavior that I need to change.

One thing I continue to come back to time and time again is the notion of figuring out how to pursue your passions and dreams while not losing sight of the really important things in life. I don’t know if it is at all possible. Or maybe it is a misalignment of priorities. Perhaps it is realizing that my passions in life are not really the work I do, but the people in my home and the people who I call friends. Perhaps the work is an interest or hobby and I need to address the fact that this work will always be here.

But my kids won’t always live at home(at least I hope not).

My wife has dreams of her own.

And when I get older and the kids are out making their own journey come to life perhaps that is when you jump back into the game of trying to accomplish it all.

However, that is only if you are lucky enough to live to be old.

And so after 1100 words I am back to the start of trying to figure out what to do and how to do it.

I share this with you to let you know that I don’t have it figured out. It may seem like I do when I share online, but I don’t. It may seem like I have extra hours in my day, but I don’t. It may seem like….well I don’t know what it seems like to others and I should not worry about that. Instead, I will worry about myself and my family and figure out what exactly it is that meets the needs of them.

Remember to shoot for the stars. But, please remember that when you leap you might need to crawl back to start and prepare to leap again. Or realize that the ground you were currently on was not so bad after all. You only find out when you try.

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5 thoughts on “The Reality of Taking Risks and Leap of Faith

  1. Beautifully said, Aaron. Thank you, for sharing so much of what you are going through, for so much of your heart. Not everyone does and it is refreshing, it is good, it is reassuring to know that life isn’t perfect, that nobody is, that we’re all working so hard to do the right thing and sometimes we’re not even sure what that is. I completely and totally get where you are at and it is not an easy nor comfortable place. I believe you’ll figure it out, whatever it is you need and move further down that path. And if that means letting go of other things, I believe you’ll know that too. Life isn’t easy, that’s for damn sure! But it’s beautiful and we are blessed to have the amazing opportunities we do. You have touched a tremendous amount of lives out there, changed people, made them better through all you have done. Not many people can say that. 🙂

  2. I think that your thoughtful post drives home the stark difference between having some good ideas in one’s head and making those ideas become real. As a maker, you understand and embrace the iterative process, which you are playing out within the context of your own life. That mental preparation should serve you well. Life has a way of throwing curve balls, even for people who don’t venture off the beaten path. I wish you the best on your journey.

  3. I love how raw this post is. Thanks for your vulnerability. I have wrestled with changing/launching into something new, but have so many of the thoughts you have written of, that it keeps me from trying. But you never know unless you try. To everything there is a purpose. No “thing” is wasted and we will forever be learning.

  4. Woah…this post is packed so full. So much to think about. So much to unpack. I got nothing for you but a thanks. Thanks for being real. Thanks for being vulnerable. Your heart is really in these words. It’s palpable. Keep grinding. Or not. You’re one of the smartest people I know. You’ll figure it out.