I have always been scared of heights. (That might be why I’m so short.) But I made a commitment to myself that I would try a flying trapeze class because it looked like so much fun. And in that class, I learned 5 valuable business lessons while soaring above my beloved Manhattan skyline.
- Face your fears.
The first time I stood at the edge of the platform, I was too terrified to jump. My fear of heights was about to ground my desire to fly. I had to make a decision. Would I push through the intense fear? Or climb down and stay stuck in old behaviors? I decided to leap.
Fear can shut you out of many career and business opportunities. Being afraid can prevent you from changing jobs, launching a new product, or meeting important people. If you want to build your character and improve your ability to handle difficult challenges, then you must face what scares you and find a way to overcome it. So while I may never be 100% at ease at being 100 feet up in the air, I do enjoy trapeze class – and I have a new confidence in my ability to conquer other scary situations.
- Learn from your mistakes.
The rickety aluminum ladder was a surprising challenge. I bashed and bruised my knees most of the way up. It was painful, and the memory stuck with me. On my second turn, I was very careful in how I positioned my legs on every rung. By the end of the class, I had mastered my climbing technique, and stopped smashing my kneecaps against the ladder.
Learn from your mistakes by taking mental or written notes of each step of the process. Incorporate these improvements into your projects. Whether it’s expansion, team management, or your job search, even simple adjustments can make the difference between scars and success.
- Enjoy the moment.
Early on, the instructor admonished me “You’re rushing it. You’re going to the next step too quickly. Hold each position!” Although I can be just as energetic and impatient as any entrepreneur, I listened to his instructions. He was right.
Imagine you’ve just closed a new client, and the proverbial ink has barely dried on the contract. You glance at it quickly, half-smile, and rush on to chase your next prospect. Instead, pause and savor your accomplishment. Remember how you pursued that VIP, how you impressed that interviewer, or what you did to close that deal. Enjoy the moment, before you move forward.
- Find your fans.
Our trapeze class included professionals in their 30’s and 40’s, an 11-year old and his parents, a 16-year old varsity tumbler, tourists and locals. Most of us were strangers, yet we cheered for each other as if we were at our college homecoming game!
We all like having fans when we win. But more importantly, we need cheerleaders who will applaud our efforts even when we fail – especially when we fail. Because it’s when we’re struggling that we’re most at risk for self-criticism and self-doubt. When you’re trying something new, and feeling “less than”, you need a support system. You need friends and fans who will encourage you to stick with your goal, whether that goal is to try a back flip, take a job in a new city, or start your own business.
- Keep on flying
After my first few jumps, I was very proud of myself. But on my last turn, I froze up again at the edge of the platform. I finally pushed past it, and I made “the catch”. I realized that the first time you force yourself out of your comfort zone, you feel empowered; but one event isn’t enough to overcome all your insecurities. It takes repeated efforts to master your new skills. It is crucial to make a commitment and make a plan – to ensure that you keep on practicing, improving, and pushing forward. You need to create systems that prevent you from backing out. And that’s why I bought a five-class card, pre-scheduled the dates of my next lessons, and signed up for aerial conditioning classes.
I hope my trapeze story will encourage you to take your own leap of faith.
Don’t let your fears keep you away from amazing new experiences. Grab a friend, climb up the ladder of success rung by rung, and learn to fly fearlessly through life.