The Leap of Faith
Last week I was with a group of executives doing a workshop on Growing Your Personal Brand Influence. I asked the group what’s your most enduring fear? For most, it was the thought of leaping out of a plane. I’ve never understood why people enjoy taking their lives in their hands and jump willingly into… well, nothing.
Even though they know that they were more likely to be hurt in a car crash than a parachute accident, they had a dozen good excuses ready. When one of the participants volunteered he had booked a tandem parachute jump for his birthday it was a unexpected surprise. It had to be something significant, he said, to match the significance of this particular birthday with all the excuses still in his head. I couldn’t see the logic, but I digress.
When the day inexorably rolled around, he had used up all his excuses. He had to do it. All through the instructions and hooking up to his instructor he felt numb.
But once the door slid open and the rush of cool air hit him, he felt the adrenaline hit. He recanted that there was no sensation of falling – in fact, it was something like floating on a bed of air. All too soon, the ground was rushing up, the parachute was deployed and it was all over.
And guess what? He wanted to do it all again.
So why hadn’t he done it before that significant birthday? Quite simply, fear. In his everyday life, he’s a high stakes futures trader, and he’s often had to use strategies to control his fears when he was trading. There’s nothing wrong with fear; in fact, it’s our protection against threats and danger. But ultimately, it can lead to poor decisions.
How does someone in his job manage to control fear? First, define exactly what his fear is. Maybe it’s simply one of losing money. Or perhaps it’s the prospect of a sudden huge loss that will end a career and professional reputation. It’s easy to make your fear seem like the worst thing that could ever happen to you. But is it really?
Once you understand your particular fear, it becomes less frightening. The key is to never risk more than you are able to lose. Then the risk becomes more acceptable, and you can make progress.
There are times when fear will suddenly take you by the throat, usually because your imagination is in overdrive. Taking a leaf out of positive psychology, just think of AWARE and follow these steps:
- A: Accept the anxiety and don’t try to fight it.
- W: Watch your anxiety level and start to breathe longer on your out-breath.
- A: Act normally. Carry on behaving as if nothing is different. This sends a powerful signal to your unconscious mind that its over-dramatic response is unnecessary.
- R: Repeat these steps if necessary.
- E: Expect the best. You’ll realise you can control fear much more than you thought possible.
These simple techniques will help you to focus on reality and enable you to think more clearly. It takes effort and practice, but once your fear has reduced to an acceptable level, you will be able to carry on.
Realistically, you’ll face fear many times both in your career, business and personal life. Know your ‘trading’ rules and keep to them. Understand the fear, and remind yourself that it is your response to a possible danger…..it’s normal!
The worst possible result really isn’t going to be all that bad. Give it a shot and let me know the outcome. I’m confidant that in the longer-term it will be a positive experience.
Jon Michail and his team at Image Group International partners with their clients to achieve breakthrough results with new, disruptive ways to grow and monetise their personal and business brands. A veteran coach with a Who’s Who clientele, Jon is the CEO and Founder of Image Group International, an Australian-based corporate and personal brand image advisory and coaching organisation that conducts transformational seminars and workshops in over four continents and is recognised as Australasia’s No. 1 Image Coach.