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On Thin Ice

When are risks worth taking?  And how should you approach the “right risks?”

Two weeks ago, when snow and ice descended upon Atlanta, it made national headlines. In fact, I was in Lethbridge, Canada this week (where the weather was subzero and snowy), and even they had heard about the freak Atlanta snowstorm!

It was a very serious situation, and many people (friends and neighbors included) struggled to get home, abandoned their vehicles, or were even involved in accidents.

Fortunately, I was home at the time, safe and sound. Being snowed in for two days, however, led me to experiment with a new stunt. Watch this video to see the results.

Now upon first viewing (and maybe even fourth or fifth), this may look like foolish, unnecessary risk taking. And it’s true that accidental drownings in pools and water bodies are a serious and tragic concern. I do not mean to make light of a potentially deadly threat. The other very real risk was the “slip and fall” aspect of walking (and intentionally sliding) on ice. Again, this is not to be taking lightly.

The truth is, I didn’t take it lightly … at all.

When we decided to make this video, we went through several very careful safety checks before determining the thickness of the ice (6 inches) and it’s ability to hold my body weight (completely capable). Knowing this, I rehearsed the moves, experimenting with how my body would react on the ice, how much force it would take to propel me across the pool, and the transitions between the deck and the ice.

Then we “staged” the progressive build up to the stunts to build excitement and interest. The final shot, when I threw the torches into ice hole was a bit of trick videography. The torches were not even capable of burning through the thickness of the ice. Instead, I had to carefully cut the hole (which took about 15 minutes) before the final shot was filmed.

I share this “behind the scenes” info to point out how stunt performers operate. We are NOT daredevils, ready to risk it all for a thrill or for accolades. The acrobats and stunt pros I respect and have learned from are some of the most safety conscious people I know.

As you consider the risks, or the perceived risks you face in life, please heed these guidelines before you tread onto “thin ice.”

  1. Understand the exact nature of the risk you face. What is it about the situation that could be harmful or damaging?
  2. Clarify your purpose. Is this risk necessary? Why? What would you stand to gain as a result if you could overcome fear and difficulty?
  3. Minimize the risks you can. Because you understand the nature of the risk, you can take some steps to reduce the most harmful aspects. Get creative, get help, and get your risks down to acceptable levels.
  4. Proceed slowly, but with confidence. Indecision and half-hearted attempts actually increase your risk. As the saying goes, “Cars don’t kill squirrels. Indecision kills squirrels.” Don’t be a squirrel. Go forward with the full understanding of what you face, but believe that you will follow through and be better for the undertaking.

With clear focus, careful planning, and the proper support and coaching, I know that you will be able to turn your slippery moments into opportunities to shine.

Keep leaning forward,

Dan

  • Ed Witowski says:

    Dan,

    I enjoyed the the experiment on ice at your pool. I didn’t think water would
    freeze that thick down in Atlanta!

  • Matt Rosenblum says:

    As always I truely enjoy seeing how you experience life to its fullest. What is most inspiring is how you do it. You look at a challenge and say, ok…I need to experience that. What a great way to live! I often think what it would be like to have a do-over button…a way to follow the path that takes you on a journey…not just a job that you go to the next day. The courage, creativity and zest for life that you share is amazing. I look forward to the day when I gain the courage to do more than watch what you do, but to do it too. Thanks, Matt Rosenblum

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