Small Steps For Overcoming Fear
There are some pretty scary things in this world and for me jumping out of planes was one of them…this is kind of embarrassing so stay with me.
We had been in on course at Canadian Forces Base Edmonton (CFB Griesbach back then) for about 3 weeks.
This got extended to 4 weeks because of high winds, which meant more bloody 4 am wake ups and runs.
These runs in themselves were scary, not because of the pace or the length but because every morning we ran past the military prison.
The guys in jail would be out in the prison yard doing drill in shoes with no laces…and getting ridden hard.
Talk about a great deterrent!
Oh yeah and all of the silver garbage cans out front of the prison were polished so perfectly you could shave in them!
During my para course we learned the “5 points of flight” procedures, which are the 5 things you must do on descent from the plane to the earth.
It’s a proven system for success.
Keep a sharp lookout for other jumpers
Lower your equipment
Prepare to land
Man oh man when you are jumping a static line chute (the good ol CT-1 which stands for Canadian Troops 1)…
You need a proven system.
Now Picture this…
It’s my first jump. Chute only no equipment.
We are stacked in 2 sticks as they are called and we walk from the hangar to the back of the C-130 hercules.
My damn heart is in my mouth and my nose is filled with the smell of AV gas (aviation fuel).
The second I smell AV gas anywhere today it takes me right back to that runway. LOL.
So we get on the plane and start the slow ascent to 3000 feet and I am under all kinds of stress and doing my best to remember the points of flight.
There are only 5, how hard can it be?
Well stress can do chaotic things to your brain and when you are in a sky filled with guys dropping rapidly to the earth right next to you so you need to be squared away.
Now my daughter was on the ground watching as well, so the last thing I wanted her to see was her dad plummeting to earth like a sorry sack of potatoes smashing into the dropzone.
Fast forward and cue the main ramp door.
GREEN LIGHT…. GO GO GO
I moved toward the back of the plane and the open ramp made the horizon and ground look like a big screen TV.
I threw my static line and noticed the guys in front of me looked like cigarettes flicked out a window…slight sideways trajectory and then the wind grabs them and tosses them aside.
I take my JAB step and I’m out into the wide open…now what? Oh Right…1 one thousand 2 one thousand – check Canopy… woooooo it worked. I WAS ALIVE!
I sort of remembered point 2, forgot 3 and 4 and just got ready for 5 which was to prepare for landing.
My first jump was quite a ride and I was just so happy my chute opened!
More importantly I had overcome one of my biggest fears and went on to complete several jumps including a night jump.
It was an experience with a group of guys who were amazing.
But I almost lost the opportunity by letting fear paralyze me.
Here’s a cool quote from Steven Pressfield who is one of my favorite authors:
“Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”
This speaks to me on so many levels.
Are you being held back from enjoying your life because of fear. I’m here to tell you that it can be overcome.
All it takes is a willingness to take a small step. A small commitment.
Fear can be overcome by building a system for success, despite the stress, just like the 5 points of flight procedure for jumping.
Think what it might take to overcome your fear, break it down into easy actionable steps and implement them one at a time.
Your quality of life will drastically improve, I promise.
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