In a reflective mood, I was re-reading a few of the 200-plus columns I’ve written for Strictly Business over the years. I’ve gotten so many comments about this article, published in January 2000, that I’m updating it for you. I hope it prompts you to reach your own “personal best” this year!

*Once upon a time, there was a young woman who had discovered what she was truly passionate about in life. She was excited about the future and eager to achieve her life’s purpose. However, in this story, there was a catch. To succeed, she needed to complete a journey and reach a certain destination by the end of just one day.

She set off on the journey, and by mid-afternoon was getting near her destination. Facing her now was a long bridge over a deep canyon. At the crest of the bridge, a man was standing, and as she approached, she realized that he had a rope tied around his waist. When she reached him, he handed her the other end of the rope, and ordered her, “Whatever you do, don’t let go of this rope!”

Before she could even think things through, he jumped over the side of the bridge and yelled, “Hold on! Don’t let go or I’ll die!”  The shocked woman held on tightly, while the jumper dangled halfway down the deep gorge.

She screamed and tried to pull the jumper up, but he was too heavy.  And every time she called to him with a suggestion, the man shouted back, “No, no! Just hold on!”

The young woman pulled and tugged, but to no avail.  Meanwhile, she realized that the chances of reaching her destination were sinking with the afternoon sun. Suddenly, she realized the jumper could wrap the rope around himself and pull himself up! She shouted her idea to him, but he refused, insisting that she keep holding the rope.

Exasperated, she coaxed, pleaded, and wheedled, without success. The sun was beginning to set. She yelled down the instructions clearly one more time and said, “I know this will work. If you don’t do it, I’m going to let go of the rope.”

His answer was the same: “No! Just hang on to me!”

Then the young woman let go of the rope.

Shocked?  I was, too!  This story seems to be an ugly twist on the classic parable—“The Good Samaritan Goes Bad”

But let’s think about the story in relationship to your life, and your future.  What is the “jumper” in your life? That is, what is it that you are holding on to, that’s keeping you from making your dreams come true?  Is it worth staying stuck, in order to keep that thing at the end of the rope alive?  What would really happen if you ….let ….go… of it?

Perhaps you feel there’s some barrier that’s kept you from achieving your goals or turning your vision into reality.  Be honest: Is it truly insurmountable, or have you just assumed it was, so you could avoid dealing with it?

This year, this month, this week, this day, decide you will leap over or break through your biggest barrier. You’ve got nothing to lose but your chains to a disappointing past. Wishing you a year like no other — a terrific 2012!

*A version of this story originally appeared in Edwin H. Friedman’s Friedman’s Fables,  published by The Guilford Press in New York and London, in 1990.

If your organization would like a keynote speech or training program on this or other topics, contact Jeanne Baer at  (402) 475-1127 or visit me on the web at or via email at
Copyright 2011 Creative Training Solutions

by Jeanne Baer, President
Creative Training Solutions
402-475-1127 or 800-410-3178