I recently picked up the phrase "Dive In" from an industry event in London. Other than at a swimming pool, I had never heard those two little words paired together and was surprised to find that they had such dramatic meaning. To me, "Dive In" is one part Lean In and one part Just Do It. If you’ve read about me, you can surmise that in early 2014, my family and I had a decision to make. My company asked if I would move from the US to the UK. Career-wise, it was a no-brainer. Life-wise, it was… well, not a no-brainer. It was a decision for both my partner D. and me. He had to be as – if not more – into it than I was. And he’s a bit (and by a bit, I mean very) risk-adverse. We discussed and debated the life-changing decision for weeks.
After weeks of indecision, there was this moment. I remember it so precisely. We were in the kitchen of our gloriously spacious apartment in Boston (oh, the days of having an apartment with more than 2 rooms… sorry, I digress); there we were, having another conversation about the move, and I just wanted closure.
Me: “Well, what’s your answer?”
D: <Non-committal waffling> followed by: “What do you mean, What's your answer? I'm not ready for that! Where’s your pro/con list?”
Me: “That? Yeeeah, I don’t have one of those.”
Now, at this moment, a look flashed in his eyes that said: What is happening?! I thought I loved her! I could never love anyone without a pro/con list!
But the response came to me without effort. It was one of those rare moments wherein you actually say exactly what you want to say, in the moment you want to say it.
“Here’s the deal," I said. "We can spend 5 more weeks debating and making lists, but a pro/con list is a set of facts. Depending on what you want the outcome to be, you apply your preference to sway these objective facts into the 'pro' or 'con' category. It's self-imposed marketing. So, yes. We could go over the facts again and decide again if we want them to be positive or negative. But when you have something this life-altering knocking on your door and there are no conversation-stopping negatives, you listen to your gut. And my gut says, 'Let's do this.'”
A pro/con list is a set of facts. And depending on what you want the outcome to be, you apply your preference to sway facts into the “pro” or “con” category.
If this were a movie, (I would be played by Jennifer Garner for the record) and D. would've responded with, “Oh Julie, my gut says yes, too.” Then we would’ve kissed… and the credits would've rolled. But this was real life, so of course he didn't say 'yes' that night. However, soon after, he did.
So for me, this decision to move our lives to London for work was an example of Diving In. It was a moment of being faced with a life-altering decision and not solely letting facts determine fate. It was recognizing that this was, in fact, a huge risk. The facts were not indisputably saying, “Do it!” But the gut was saying, "This is going to be an adventure!"
So you close your eyes, sign on the dotted line...
And dive in.
Photo by Jon Baker