A fresh look at the brand-new year

The new year brings new challenges, new opportunities, new hopes and fears.

Yes, even fear. Whatever you choose to call it — fear, anxiety, distress, worry, dread, panic — it’s a sense of foreboding you try to push back or away completely. Maybe you try to understand it. I’ve tried. Somehow I thought if I could analyze the sensation enough, it would somehow disappear. It hasn’t.

So I’ve realigned my fear. The feeling doesn’t need to vanish. I can choose to look at it differently. Assimilate it. Redefine it. Embrace it, if necessary. Transform it into positive energy to inspire change and movement. I’m choosing transformation.

New Year 7

It’s so long to the “what-ifs” and hello to new places, new people, new relationships, and renewed confidence and job opportunities. You were okay, 2014, but I’m moving on.

Here’s to 2015.

What do skydiving and speaking have in common?

Clouds 3
“Feet in the door, get out, go!”

This is what I heard several times at the beginning of a fascinating journey years ago. I jumped out of a plane 22 times (actually, 2 different planes – a Cessna 182 and Cessna 206).

I got the idea from an article I read in a Dallas newspaper. The reporter shared her story about the “first jump course” (classroom instruction and ground training), then detailed her first jump. I decided to investigate.

Admittedly, I love planes, always have. And skydiving was a lot less expensive than taking the classes to learn to fly a small plane. I knew if I could (willingly) throw myself out of a plane, I would be tackling a huge fear. My self-confidence would increase. I could do almost anything. The sky’s the limit, right?

I had already confronted my fear of public speaking. (Everyone knows that speaking in front of a crowd is considered the number one fear of the average person — the number two fear is death!) I was a debater in high school and college, completed a master’s degree in speech communication and served as a debate coach, and taught public speaking. So how hard could it really be to jump out of a plane?

It wasn’t easy, at first. It was terrifying. And initially overcoming my anxiety in front of an audience wasn’t stress-free, either.

Skydiving and public speaking both arouse some level of fear or anxiety. To “get better” at either endeavor, preparation and practice are essential. For public speaking, fear dissipates with practice. Spend plenty of time preparing, and connect with your audience.

For skydiving, thanks to the instruction and training I received along with some awesome moral support from jumpmasters and other skydivers, I was able to ease my fear with each successive jump.

What fear will you face today? Consider how preparation and practice might open the door to your personal and professional success.

Take that first step. Feet in the door.