What an extraordinary weekend as we witnessed the first successful supersonic space jump by Austrian Felix Baumgartner.
While I did not get to watch it live, I have played (and re-played) that amazing feat a few times, and one question keeps nagging me:
What is my "Supersonic Space Jump Moment" (SSJM :-)?
You know what I mean - what is it that I could do which would challenge me in such a way that it changes not only my life, but the lives of those who witness it?
Before viewing Mr. Baumgartner's courageous action, I used to refer to Steve Farber's OS!M (the Oh Sh--! Moment) as the gold standard for this kind of personal boundary-busting thinking, but it's hard to beat a jump from 120,000 feet.
What's your personal "gravity" or "sound barrier"?
We all have things that make us downright terrified:
- speaking publicly - even to a room with only a handful of people, much less hundreds
- professional networking and meeting new people at events
- taking on a project that exceeds our current level of experience or skill
- meeting with a high level executive or decision maker
You could almost call these our own personal "gravity" or "sound barriers" since it's usually little voices in our own minds that pull us back to earth through doubt and disbelief.
The reality is that the underpinning fear in all of these situations is fear of failure. What if I stepped out and did this thing and it completely bombed? What would people think of me?
It's helpful to confront those fears by exploring the worst case scenario, being realistic about the consequences of a particular action.
For Felix Baumgartner, the worst case scenario was death...and yet he did it anyway.
I'm pretty sure that most of what you and I will attempt is not going to risk our lives. It might risk our pride or sense of security, but rarely will it have that kind of life-ending impact. In fact, my experience is that taking a risk to do the tough stuff typically has a positive impact.
The truth is: it was gravity - the force that makes us fall or 'fail' - which ultimately led Baumgartner to break the sound barrier. He just decided to use it to his advantage.
Even if you fail, that first attempt to bust through a mental barrier and step out in faith transforms your mind. It tends to take the sting out of that thing that you feared so much. You usually end up saying, "that wasn't so bad" and "I'm going to try that again." It's almost as if the fear that once prevented you becomes the driving force for future attempts.
So I'll ask it of you as I am asking myself:
What is your Supersonic Space Jump Moment?
What are you fearing to do right now - what action are you failing to take - that you know could advance your career more than anything else?
Why don't we take some inspiration from our friend Felix and take the plunge?