Mike Lewis called me from a train in San Francisco on Thursday as I sat in my cushy, comfortable office chair.
He apologized for the conductor’s voice that boomed in the background while I warned Mike of the kid-related squeals he might hear from my side of the phone line during our chat.
That introduction was apropos.
On the surface, I couldn’t be more different from the Ivy League graduate with no children riding on a train on the other side of the country. What lies below the surface, though, connects the two of us – and us to so many others.
Mike Lewis is the founder and creator of When to Jump, an independent media partner of the Huffington Post on a mission to bring together people who have, or aspire to, follow their dreams. Or, as Mike calls it, “jumping”.
These “jumpers” have courageously created a life chasing passion – never allowing today’s comforts, responsibilities or expectations to dampen the fire burning from within.
Lewis himself jumped several years ago – leaving a profitably typical life for a chance to travel the world playing professional squash.
As he told me, the first six months of the journey were loosely scripted. By the time his tour ended sixteen months later, Lewis had visited forty-seven countries – staying with host families gracious enough to take him in as he globe-trotted with his squash racquet.
His travels became less about polishing his world ranking and more about the people he met along the way. Lewis would share his jump story and began to notice a truth that has become the centerpiece of the When to Jump community – the belief that every person wants to jump.
Lewis will chronicle his experiences and that of others in his upcoming book, When to Jump: If The Job You Have Isn’t The Life You Want, published by Henry Holt MacMillan and set for release in early 2018. (For updates on the book’s release, please sign up via the WTJ newsletter at: www.whentojump.com/newsletter).
Lewis explains what drove him to his leap, saying, “I had a good job. I felt safe. I was comfortable, too comfortable for me. I just couldn’t ignore that I needed more.”
He jumped and never looked back. Neither have other jumpers – even if their pursuits may have failed.
“Too many people think a jump is only worth it if X, Y or Z happens. That’s not it. Having no regrets and following passions is success in itself.” Lewis’ voice gains momentum as he continues, “Even those that have abandoned their jumps often tell me that they wished they’d jumped sooner.”
By this point, I’ve spent fifteen minutes with Mike and I’m ready for my jump.
Sign me up!
That is, until my 8 year-old peaks his head into the office, interrupts my next question and whispers, “Dad? Everett just called me ‘butt-crack’ and hit me in the arm.”
My passionate conscience sinks back into obscurity – my son’s needs win out for now.
The interruption suddenly reminds me that jumps for parents are difficult and complicated – even daunting. The very idea of shunning comfort for passion collides with the traditional view of what life is post-children – kids first, me last.
I’m left wondering: Can I live in service to my dreams while raising great children?
Mike Lewis’ answer is a resounding, “Of course!”
“A jump is not a one day thing,” Lewis’ energy is evident, “It is a series of small decisions that build. Ideas are the foundation but acting on them is the real power – even the small acts that might take parents longer.”
Just as before, I’m ready to jump. But, I’m realizing, not right now.
Mike’s train has arrived at its destination and my kids need my help. I thank Mike for his time and tell him that I hope to stay in touch.
Our call ends and I’m faced with the fact that my passions will wait. Right now I have to move my 3 year-old down on his reward chart for hitting his brother and saying butt-crack (again).
My dreams, however, are closer today than they were yesterday because I’ve completed another, small act. I’ve connected with Mike Lewis’ When to Jump community of dream-chasers just like me.
I hope other parents will join in the chase – our kids will be better for us having tried.
About When to Jump:
When to Jump is a curated community featuring the ideas and stories of people who have made the decision to leave something comfortable and chase a passion. You can follow When to Jump on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
For more stories like this one, sign up for the When to Jump newsletter here. (Note: The When to Jump newsletter is not managed by The Huffington Post.)
Follow Mike Lewis on Twitter: www.twitter.com/whentojump