“We cannot become
what we need to be
by remaining what we are.”

                          – Max de Pree

I’m not sure where I came across the term last or why it’s stuck in my brain this morning, but it’s a term that is often thrown about amongst those trying to get things done. According to Merriam-Webster, The Jumping-Off Point is the point from which something begins.

I agree whole-heartedly with that definition, but not in the way that most would think. According to most sources for definitions of terms and sayings, this mystical location is the place where everything starts. What’s the old saying, “Start where you stand”? What? That’s a poem? Huh? So it is… here’s the link if the curiosity has made you anxious to jump-off from this page to that.

Those three short poetic stanzas may prove more eloquent than this blog post, but they don’t properly define The Jumping-Off Point. It’s different than that. And, I contest that it’s different than the definition that it’s been given by those who have taken it upon themselves to define it. Sorry Webster, but I think you’ve undersold this just a tad. I can’t jump from “where I stand” if I’m going to land in the same place I stood before all the jumping started. There needs to be a desired landing point, some sought after potential destination if I’m to jump. Otherwise, I’m expending energy flapping my wings. Without any specific purpose in mind, I’m just getting busy getting nowhere.

That sounds a bit silly, but how often have we done it? We launch in a new direction for the sake of launching. We blaze a new trail, beat a new drum, make a change for the sake of changing things up. In some cases the reward has the potential to outweigh the risk, but in many cases we don’t even consider the intrinsic value of either.

I’d like to offer a more useful definition for The Jumping-Off Point because I think that thinking is helpful and the term is ultimately something that should become a functional part of our methodology.

Step 1: If I’m to jump I want a target in view –

We touched on this in passing a couple of paragraphs ago, but it stands to reason that any activity worth doing should be done with purpose. In essence, why am I jumping in the first place? Is it just to get away from where I am? Insert your favorite frying pan / fire imagery here. If I’m jumping, I want to have a desired landing spot in mind. Then, and only then, am I onboard.

Step 2: If I’m to jump I want to be prepared  –

The phrase, “do your due diligence” comes to mind, although I think sometimes we can overdo our due. The act of jumping seems to imply a commitment to the course of action. To the best of my knowledge, once you’ve jumped, you can’t un-jump. If I’m to jump, I at least want to have some understanding of what to anticipate once the jump has been executed.

Step 3: If I’m to jump I want a bail out option  –

Again, jumping seems to imply commitment, but does it have to be of the ride-or-die variety? Keep in mind that most ride-or-die options are chosen because riding is the anticipated result. No one commits to a ride-or-die set of handcuffs with dying in mind. Don’t misunderstand, I’ll take the bad with the good, provided the bad can be tinkered with as needed. If that’s not an option, keep your bad away from my good. Seriously, I mean that… I’m not into crash and burn potential. That’s just totally unappealing on every level… like, totally!

Picturing the Jump  –

I love to cook, but I’m adventurous in the kitchen and not every recipe turns out as planned. If I read about a pair of spices or flavorings that may complement each other, I’ll give them a try. It can also be a happy breakthrough if they play off of each other in stark contrast. Who can argue that the marriage of peanut butter and chocolate has been a huge win for Reese’s?

A recipe is nothing more than a formula for merging standalone entities into a combination whereby each plays a distinctive role, while getting lost in the transition that produces a taste that’s uniquely different. Those who do it well, always have people clamoring for a seat at their table. Those who do it poorly, order pizza.

Whether I’m trying to discover a new seasoning sauce for my rack of ribs or a new lip-smack for my chili, I want some endgame in view as I embark on my walk down Jump Street. I also want a strategic plan in place that has a good chance of producing the desired result. And, because experience has taught me that not every recipe leads to edible, I want pizza on speed dial. I’m okay with going from frying pan to trash can every now and again, provided we didn’t burn down the kitchen in the process.

If we can use those three velvet ropes to find a promising launching pad, I’m ready to jump off and let the magic unfold. In my perspective, things got underway long before we reached the Jumping-Off Point, which means it’s not a starting point at all, but more of a place where we trust the process and decide to let go.

“It takes as much energy to wish
as it does to plan.”

                            – Eleanor Roosevelt

Quick Links to Mark’s Books on Amazon:

Mark D. Combs
Don’t Forget Your Cape
Mark D. Combs
Mark D. Combs

Comments are closed.