Courage is contagious. It’s a fact. When we are surrounded by people taking leaps, we too feel the call to see ourselves in a grander light, to at least entertain the possibility of what else exists for us beyond what we can see right now.
When I met photographer Brooke Holm, we were both employees working full time. Within a few years, we’d both leaped out on own, to craft a career on our own terms. I attribute my own leap to being blessed to hang out with Brooke for a while, and feel her rallying call to freedom. She had grabbed it with both hands, hugged it and invited it to worldly adventures. And by then I got hooked too.
It may not seem it, but I think leap takers are actually long-range thinkers. They look beyond the next few weeks, or months or years and see their whole lives laid out before them. They see the paths we can travel, and they consciously take steps aligned with their values, even when they’re not completely sure they’ll lead. They look forward so they can look back, and know the choices they make today are informed by acknowledging fear, being OK with uncertainity, feeling uncomfortable and still choosing courage.
Perhaps J. Paulsen captured this idea best with these words: “The cost of not following your heart is spending the rest of your life wishing you had.”
This doesn’t mean you will necessarily quit your day job, up-end your life, or turn yourself inside out. But it does mean staying awake to those things that call deeply to you, and giving yourself permission to grant them a little freedom.
I know from people like Brooke, that freedom is something you take through the choices you make. And you will never know what you’re truly capable of until you get in the arena.
NEWS! Two leaping (Melbourne) events I want you to know about!
The Leap Stories will come to life with Creative Women’s Circle on Thursday 26 May. I’m hosting a panel of our leap stories interviewees who have survived quitting their day jobs! Hear the behind the scenes nuts and bolts of how they did it, and where they’re at now. Come pick their brains! Click for more info.
If you’re looking get some career advice from people who have both leaped to taking on new roles within companies, and those who have leapt out on their own, I’m on a panel with a gang of ladies, hosted by another leaping kin, B.Kindred, on Tuesday 31 May. Click here for more info.
What did you want to be when you grew up and why?
I wanted to be a marine biologist. I also wanted to be an astronaut, but who doesn’t. Hell, I still want to be an astronaut. I even emailed NASA the other day about how I want to go to space with them and take photos.
What did/do you study?
I studied a Bachelor of Creative Industries, majoring in Advertising and Production. It was vague of me to choose that because I had no idea what I wanted to do. Something fun. It wasn’t that fun and I kind of felt it was wasted on me, but when I landed myself a job in an ad agency as an assistant, everything started coming together. While I was working there I picked up a camera and studied photography part-time while I was working.
What has been your most scary/courageous leap you’ve ever made (preferably in your business/career/life direction)?
Firstly, quitting my first real job and moving to Melbourne where I imagined the grass was greener (it was). It was the first time I felt I had real direction for my career. I had fallen in love with photography and I pursued it with all my heart. The second scary leap came when I went from a full-time photography job in-house to a full-time freelancer with my own clients.
What were you doing before you made your leap?
Floating. Hating the 9-5 routine. Feeling like my lack of motivation was just how I was, rather than that particular path just not being right for me.
Who have been the biggest 3 – 5 influences in your life, in terms of your career and doing work?
Marsha Golemac – my best friend and the one I have had by my side since going full time on my own. She and I have grown and changed together. I’m not sure I would have done it as quickly without her. She challenges me creatively and pushes me outside my comfort zone and I’m very grateful for that.
Megan Morton – Megan has been a mentor and a friend to me for years and I’m very fortunate to have her in my life. She’s honest, tough, kind and has been through it all, so her opinion and advice is always welcomed.
Annie Leibovitz – the first photographer I paid attention to. I loved her aesthetic and stories about the people she photographed. Hers was the first photography book I owned and I poured over it endlessly. I suppose I could thank her for inspiring me.
Clint Harvey – My design college/photography teacher in Brisbane. He taught me a lot when I studied with him. He pushed me to be better and better. Hopefully now I’ve made him proud.
What did you have in place before you made the leap?
I’m not a big preparation person. I pretty much just did it impulsively. Story of my life.
What was your defining ‘I can’t do this anymore’ moment that lead you to the leap?
I think I just arrived at a point where I was so jaded and restless that I had to do something about it. Sometimes I need drastic change and a life upheaval to keep going up and up. So far in my life, even if it doesn’t seem like it at first, all change has been for the better.
How did/do you overcome/work with the fear that comes with leaping? How do you decide to choose courage?
I felt anxious about leaping, of course. That’s only natural. But I think I would have felt worse had I stayed where I was. I wasn’t happy at all and I wanted more. Only I could get that for myself. It wasn’t going to fall in my lap.
I’m extremely ambitious and I always want to improve, so staying in the same spot for too long is only going to prohibit me from reaching my potential. I knew this deep down. I guess the hardest part was a security and money issue as having a full-time job gives you that reassurance. However, money has never been my main priority when it comes to success, so I figured if things didn’t work out, I could always get another full-time job. However, I believe that when you force yourself out of your comfort zone, you have no choice but to make it work. Whatever it takes.
The first part was the hardest, where you have that fear of failure. But I quickly realised that I was in control and that it was up to me to make something of myself. To be honest, it has been working from the beginning up until now and I don’t see things going downhill anytime soon. I won’t let that happen. I’m not afraid anymore.
How did you fund your leap?
I saved, I started shooting weddings for some extra money, I contacted a lot of people with my interest in shooting for them, I lived on baked beans and two minute noodles and gradually things started coming together. I didn’t have to struggle for long because even getting one freelance job a week paid more than 2 full weeks in my full-time job. Crazy.
What other leaps have you made in the past?
I separated myself from anyone who held me back and spent four years on my own figuring out who I was, as scary as that was at times. I travelled to the most northern part of the world and stood on the bow of a ship breathing in the -30°C air. At that point in time I was actually the farthest person north in the world. I did it by myself and I’ve had the opportunity to feel completely free and weightless.
What leaps didn’t work out? What did you do about it?
I’m unsure if any major leaps haven’t worked out. If they haven’t, I don’t know what they are. Or I’ve moved on from them. I’ve always found a way.
What are you most fearful of? How do you deal with it?
I’m afraid of becoming irrelevant. Or being held back beyond my control, or feeling trapped. I’m also afraid of losing an arm or a leg or an eye. Because I can’t do what I do without those things. I worry sometimes, but then I get distracted by all the things I need to accomplish. Busyness counters my anxiety.
How would you rate your level of happiness about making your leap?
1 being sad, 10 being rad.
1 million and 10.
What’s the biggest upside to making the leap?
What’s the biggest downside to making the leap? And how do you get through it?
It’s a lot of responsibility to stay on top of things and no one is there to hold your hand if you make a mistake. You’re on your own. Being easy to deal with, kind, confident and professional can help if something goes wrong. But at the end of the day you are liable.
What might be your next leap?
I feel a deep calling to do something more meaningful with my work. I want to have a positive influence on the world and not just aid the progression of landfill and meaningless crap. There are so many issues that I want to address and raise awareness about. There are big ideas brewing in me. I think a new city is possibly on the cards but we will have to wait and see.
What are your favorite words to live by?
I’m not into quotes necessarily. I like to make my own way.
Who do you admire who also made the leap?
A piece of advice for someone with an itch to leap?
If you don’t do it, you won’t do it. And then you’ll be 80 and full of regret.
Right now I’m:
Hearing: The Roots
Eating: Scrambled eggs with barbeque ketchup
Drinking: Coffee. Always.
Reading: This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein
Loving: Having a new computer that allowed me to answer all these questions without showing the beach ball of death.
Don’t be 80 and full of regret. Give yourself permission to try. You’ll never regret trying.
Lovingly, Kylie x
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