My hope is that as many of you as possible saw Felix Baumgartner’s record-setting sky dive on Sunday. This was a rare moment, and seeing it live was incredible.
Just a few facts: Baumgartner, 43, a skydiver and extreme sport athlete, rode inside a capsule attached to a helium balloon that shot up to more than 128,000 feet. From there, he jumped off a step outside of the capsule and did a freefall into history.
He set records: The highest anyone had ever gone in a balloon; the highest sky dive ever; the fastest speed (833 mph) any skydiver had ever reached. That’s Mach 1.24, well over the speed of sound. This was a feat years in the making, with great risks, a lot of training and cutting-edge technology.
But it almost didn’t happen.
Being inside the specialized pressure suit he’d wear during the jump gave him a serious case of claustrophobia. Add to that the doubts and fears he encountered, the internal pressure of calling the whole thing off was high.
He overcame it, though. He worked his way past the fear of being in that suit, the fear of losing control during the freefall and the last-minute technical difficulties during the flight up.
Finding the internal toughness and resolve to work through those issues allowed him to do something incredible and make a mark in history, breaking a record that was a half-century old.
I think there’s a lesson for all of us. How many times do we let fear stop us from attempting something great? How often do we tell ourselves that some feats are beyond us?
Sure, that mountain is gorgeous, but I’ll never climb it. Man, doing a half marathon/marathon/ultramarathon would be cool, but I’m just not like the people who run those. I’m just getting to old to get moving again to get in shape.
Those thoughts sound familiar? Ever hear someone utter words like these? Ever say them yourself?
“Fear” is a natural emotional response and can be a healthy thing, but it can be debilitating as well. Fear can make you stay put. Get in a rut. Deteriorate. Prevent you from doing something awesome.
Let’s be real, most of us won’t jump from the upper limits of the stratosphere. Most of us won’t skydive at all. And that’s OK.
But the sad thing is most of us won’t challenge ourselves, either. We won’t start that couch-to-5K program. We won’t actually use a gym membership. We won’t gun for that promotion, start our own business or go back to school to do something we really want to do. All because of fear.
In most cases, it’s not necessary to face your fears. You can go a long time by just keeping it at bay. But if that were the case for everyone, Everest would never have been climbed. The Marianas Trench would have never been seen. No one would have walked on the moon. Felix never would not have jumped.
Facing your fears and standing down self-doubt is a sure-fire path to growth, exploration and satisfaction. It’s nice to know that a daredevil like Felix Baumgartner has the same human fears and doubts as the rest of us. It’s also important to realize that it’s possible to claim victory over the very things that hold us back.
From doing something awesome.
You just have to step up to the platform and jump.
On Twitter @RMHigh7088