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Colliers English Dictionary defines a “leap of faith” as something you do even though you are not sure it is right or will succeed.

I define a “leap of faith” as the space between where you have been and where you are going. The place of not knowing.

As a child, I took dance classes that included ballet, point, jazz, etc. We would get to the moment in the ballet class when the teacher would say “it is time to jump”. In the beginning I thought he meant straight in the air. Instead, he would point to a corner of the room and say, “jump from here to there, and remember to point your toes, extend your arms, and look graceful as you move”. That was a lot to remember! We would practice again…again…again. The first time, I took a leap of faith. I looked at the landing spot to try and hit the target. It wasn’t pretty, but I got close! After much practice, I knew I was headed in the right direction and hoped I would elegantly land on the right spot. I trusted my ability, my knowledge, and my teacher.

Over the years, I have taken that “leap of faith” thousands of times in my personal and professional life. I took the step to move forward. Some of these “leaps” changed the course of my life for the positive. Other “leaps” were not as positive but led to the next right step.

When you reflect on your life, you will also identify times when you took a chance, had an inkling, or took a “leap of faith” which brought rewards.
– Perhaps you took a job and did not feel qualified or know what to do. It became a pivotal point in your career.
– Perhaps you were nervous and self-conscious yet asked someone on a date. They became your spouse.
– Perhaps you had an inkling to start a new business and followed through. It became a huge success.
– Perhaps you visited a city because you read an article. You moved to that location and loved it.

In order to get from where you are to where you want to be, you must have the internal belief that you will get to the other side. Sometimes we are our own worst enemy, and don’t start to leap as a result of fear.
– What if I do that, am I nuts?
– What if I don’t what know what to do?
– What if I fail?
– What if I tarnish my reputation?

When we have this internal dialogue, we often don’t even start. Fear or trepidation set in and we stay where we are and ask, “what if”. Taking a leap is the first step, landing, sticking with it, and moving forward are the necessary next steps.

By now you are asking yourself, what does this have to do with business, leadership, and human resources? Everything!

Each time a new employee is hired in your organization, the company and the new employee take a “leap of faith”. Both the employee and the company have expectations about life in the company. You both hope you made the right decision in the selection process.

The new employee wonders:
– Did the company paint an honest picture of who they are, the values, and the work environment?
– Do the leaders and my manager walk the talk?
– Will I get the training that was promised?
– Are employees happy in the environment?
– How will I know if I am successful?
– What if I make a mistake, how will they respond? Will they yell, fire me, or use it as a learning opportunity?

The company wonders:
– Is the new employee who they said they were? Did they paint a “rosy” picture in their resume or the interview?
– Does the new employee require more training than they/I thought they would need?
– Does the new employee get along with their manager and others?
– Does the new employee perform and achieve results?

The same principles hold true each time you promote an employee into a new position. You both take a leap and hope that the prior job provided the necessary background to be successful in the new role.

There are possibilities for misunderstanding and unmet expectations. The answers to these questions indicate opportunities for process improvement and are the evidence of your company culture. These indicators become the stepping-stones for future action. Leaders and managers must ensure that the employees land on fertile ground and the employee must be willing to see the target to leap. We have nothing to lose but fear.

We must walk consciously only part way toward our goal, and then leap in the dark to our success. Henry David Thoreau