Have you ever dreamed of doing something but were afraid to try? Chances are, you are more capable than you know.
One of my dreams has always been to jump out an airplane. As luck would have it, I found out that a coworker of mine was a skydiver. He was a jumpmaster and instructor and had over 1,000 jumps under his belt. I mentioned to him that I always wanted to try skydiving and before I could say, “ripcord” I was signed up for my first jump course.
When I arrived at the Drop Zone, I stepped into a different world filled with new terminology like jump run and pull up cord and it opened my eyes to the incredibly diverse ways people choose to spend their weekends. The clientele wasn’t what I was expecting. Instead of crazy thrill seekers, I found plumbers, psychiatrists, college professors and students. What a melting pot this was!
As I was going through my training, I watched these men and women and how laid back they were, laughing and kidding around one minute, and then boarding an airplane with the easy casualness of walking a dog. How could they be that calm right before they rode up to an altitude of 10,000 feet and jumped out? I knew that if I survived my first jump, I wanted to achieve that same confidence and assuredness in myself. That was the challenge.
I completed my student training, strapped myself into my gear, loaded the plane and sat on the floor of a gutted out Cessna as we climbed toward jump run. I was more scared at that moment than at any other time in my life. I thought of my family and friends, but also all of the skydivers below me who had made hundreds, even thousands of jumps. I resolved that I had to trust myself, my jumpmaster, my training and my static line parachute to do the rest. What a leap of faith!
The plane slowed down and the door opened, along with gale force winds that arrested my face, signaling it was time to get out. My thoughts were, “Do I really want to do this?” I knew I couldn’t let myself down, so I stepped out onto the strut and went through my training countdown and let go. The feeling was disorienting to say the least, but within three seconds my parachute opened and my world went completely silent. To this day, there is nothing that compares to the immense quiet I experienced in the air. I landed safely and my new family of skydivers surrounded me, congratulated me and I knew I was hooked.
I was still scared on the second jump; however, the power of putting myself to the test, the euphoria of flying and the unique camaraderie amongst skydivers beat the fear any day of the week. For the next five years, I spent most of my weekends at the drop zone and racked up over 650 skydives. Now, each time I am faced with a challenge, I breathe deep and feel that same sense of calm that gives me the courage to overcome my fears.
Doing anything for the first time is scary.
Follow these steps the next time you face a challenge or obstacle:
Realize that most fears are rooted in the fear of the unknown. Do your research and learn as much as you can on the subject. Talk to others that have experience in that field.
Understand that the difference between fear and calm is experience. You will find that the more experience you get, the more confident you will be!
Practice mental imagery (something many athletes do prior to an event). Walk through each task step by step in your mind from start to finish. Repeating the steps over and over again lets your mind feel more at ease when you perform for real.
Look back at your life and the many obstacles you have overcome. Thinking of those wins will assure you that YOU CAN do it.
Picture yourself at the end of your next challenge and see the smile on your face knowing that you overcame your fear.
Let go. Let go of the negative thoughts that will most certainly be circling around in your head and trust yourself. Trust the experienced people that have been in those very same shoes and succeeded.
Finally, trust the passion you have for the work or challenge ahead of you. You are more capable than you know.