Pulling Out of Life's Tailspins
Scared is good. It means you're alive. But it can also keep you from making a life or death decision - or a creative breakthrough.
When I trained for my pilot's license, my instructor put our plane in a deliberate tailspin. That scared me. A lot.
We did this so I would understand what causes a tailspin, and know how to pull out of it.
This has been a powerful metaphor for me in my life, whether the fear was in public speaking, writing, climbing, or flying a plane full of passengers whose lives depend on me.
Panic can strike on the ground just as much as it can in the clouds. It often appears when we're most vulnerable and unprepared. Panic also strikes the moment in a project when we're on the fringe of a creative breakthrough, keeping us from punching through to the next level.
I remember freezing in front of a room full of car salesmen. I was delivering a presentation on a new vehicle to guys that could run circles around me. I panicked. But I got through that moment by acknowledging my fear. Somehow I didn't die in front of that grizzled group.
And it wasn't long ago I had to climb up 800 vertical feet on the Tahoe Via Ferrata, high above Olympic Valley’s floor - with no climbing experience, no harness, no tether, no gloves, and no guides. Why? I got lost going up the mountain, and going down was not an option. I needed the steel steps, hammered into the rock, and suspension bridges to allow me to move up through the terrain as opposed to sliding off the slick granite of Tram Face. I remember saying to myself, "I've already slipped off this mountain. Death is behind me. Now what?" And up I went.
We don't have to be pilots, public speakers, or gapers on a mountain to understand that staying cool under pressure, and pushing the fear behind us, gives us the confidence to move forward and get through our worse case scenarios.
Practice your craft. Move beyond your comfort zone. Find your calm. And pull out of your tailspin. Don't let panic, or anything else for that matter, stop you from your breakthroughs.