By your own observation, Alex succumbed to social pressure to overcome his fear of heights. He topped off the event with some damage-limiting self-deprecation. All of that's normal. It wasn't especially brave or ingenious or anything. Maybe now he's made the jump he'll be less worried about it next time. Maybe he won't.
Frankly, if you'd gone over and congratulated him, you'd either have embarrassed him (because his dive was so terrible that some well-meaning weirdo felt the need to encourage him) or weirded him out (because seriously, who goes around complimenting strangers?). In the meantime, you're lying (it's not like his dive was actually impressive) and fostering an environment where people get praised for every meagre personal triumph. Please don't do that.
If, when I eventually do dive from the 3 meter and join the queue to go again, someone turns round and gives me a high-five, I don't think I would be particularly weirded out or embarrassed. And I don't think it would stop me from seeking my full potential in the future because my meagre personal triumph had been rewarded in some small way.
But hey, maybe I am just weird and sheltered. shrugs
The post is well written and the analogy seems appropriate btw. Rejection Therapy has a post on the secret fear hacks of high divers and the golden rule is to never balk: http://rejectiontherapy.com/fear-hacks-of-world-class-high-d...
Alex never balked either. Good for him. Great blog post too.
Spending time higher up also makes coming down to a lower height that much better. Train on 10M for a full day and then come back down to 3M and it seems like nothing. Was a good strategy to break your fear. One of my coaches (from Hungary) her father was her coach and used to dangle her and the other new recruits from the platform at a young age to break their fears. Not a strategy I would use with my kids, but worked for her (a 1988 Olympian.)
In that case the strategy worked really well. You should seriously consider it for your kids :-)
As for Michael Jackson, I don't think it was any different than a lot of guys who throw babies up in the air and catch them on their way down. Gives me a mini heart attack every time I see one.
Babies love that stuff though.
Again, I get the authors point however the delivery is terrible. The kids post-dive reaction is unrealistic, the kids pre-dive fear is unrealistic. I accept it's just an analogy but the story bothers me.
Maybe it's people like me the author is targeting.
But never the less, if that is his pre-dive emotion, who are you to discount his fear? other than perhaps someone with the benefit of hindsight? (I pressume you to be older than 16).
I like it, and you're welcome to your opinion (obviously), just thought I'd share my opinion of yours.
The subject is a 16 year old male.
Pre-dive his fear would primarily be the height and significant impact on landing. They are primal fears that significantly override one of rejection.
Post-dive, how likely is it that a 16 year old would surface and shout 'I failed'? Realistically, they may think like that but they wouldn't vocalise it. They would sheepishly swim off to a corner out of sight.
Thanks for everyone's comments. Appreciated!
I've been there. I know exactly the difference you describe between justifiable fear (the unknown physical consequences of diving off a board for the first time) vs. the far more powerful irrational fears (mind reading that everybody is looking at you and laughing at how awkward you appear, especially the cute girl over there that you are quite attracted to, and how disappointed she's going to be if you mess up the dive; maximising the importance of your dive performance in your mind because you believe she wants somebody perfect, whereas for all you know she thinks it's cute, etc.).
I especially enjoyed your conclusion - it's one I reached before, myself. Socially awkward people who eventually develop out of their behaviour have a great gift - they can recognize and empathize with other socially awkward people far better than the natural extroverts and, through their words of encouragement and empathy, share the gift of self-confidence.
You are right that nobody shouts out "I failed", but it's not unusual to hear something defensive like a sheepish "I'm not very good at diving" or "I messed that up". It basically means the same thing -- they are preparing to be rejected by the tribe by reducing their social status (and increasing the relative status of the people they are speaking to.)
OTOH it does sound like the kid in question was a lot younger than 16, especially considering his reaction and the fact that he was at the pool with his mother.
As a side note, I would have said "Come on bro dive off that board like a BOSS... the chicks will dig it!" My kids are gonna get tough love.
I'd have loved to have shouted something like that, but I've my own social awkwardness to deal with too!
Social freedom is an amazing trait to have, which you can (I certainly did and continue to) learn.
Some of my friends think I am crazy. I think I am socially free.
How your inner monologue runs when in social situations, or even walking to the shops for milk, greatly affects how you act.
As a hetro man, a classic example is nervousness in approaching a girl on the street you see walk by to find out if you like each other enough for a date or more. Thoughts like "your not allowed to (talk/stop/interrupt/greet) her on the street" and other limiting beliefs that prevent you from taking risks and grabbing life with such amazing force, all because of social conditioning and worrying about what other people will think of you, sucks.
Changing how you think, and instead becoming excited at the chance you could be bringing an amazing person into your life is much better.
When you realize that thought process exists and work to change it, in my experience, amazing adventure happens.
This applies to every aspect of life, from how you treat others, family, relationships, and work.
Changes to how you think let you not only take opportunities, but make them.
I think you grew up sheltered and have expectations that are not in line with reality.
My intention wasn't to question why everyone didn't woop and holler at his "mundane achievement". The point, if any, I was trying to make was more that I, Alex, and perhaps others, can hold ourselves back from doing things we want to do for fear of failure and rejection. And that learning to get over that fear could be beneficial.
Indeed, if I had any idea that this post was going to end up on Hacker News, rather than just as an unread scrawl on my blog, written over coffee on a Monday morning, perhaps I wouldn't have had the guts to write it at all.
The closing thought about the high-five was less a question to the world, and more a thought to myself that had I been the one diving off the board, worrying about being rejected (consciously or subconsciously), that it would have been pretty awesome to 16-year old me if some random dude had given me a high-five.
It's entirely possible though that poor writing and or structure didn't do a good job of conveying my points. Next time I'll spend a bit more time planning :)