Yesterday, Felix Baumgartner showed 8 million people in the world just what can happen when you embark on a personal journey. It was 7 years in the making, and culminated in a 10 minute descent to Earth from the Edge of Space. To say this was awesome, is just not doing the event, or the significance of the event justice.
He had a team of people helping him to get there. He practised to make sure he knew what he was getting himself into. He had a personal mentor in a man who achieved one of the original feats of freefalling. He had a special suit made for him to protect him from the forces of the Earth as he took that step off his capsule 24 miles straight up. What I personally loved about the jump was that he actually landed on his feet after all that. To say this guy was prepared, is also an understatement.
Yes there was financial support. Yes there was a stunt element to the whole thing. Yes the media loved every minute of it. Yes there are those who look at it as a silly thing for a human to do. Yes there are those who will be in awe of the man.
Yet, it inspires something.
Yet, it shows only a handful of us on this planet can ever achieve our goals.
Or does it?
I was co-delivering a two day presentation skills course some years back. There’s one guy in particular I recall. He was a young lad who had a complete lack of belief that he could deliver a good presentation. In his first set of exercises on the first day he was speaking with a shaky voice. He was physically shaking while speaking. He couldn’t make eye contact with most of the room. To say the guy was a bundle of nerves is putting it mildly.
We introduced the group to the concept of finding your ‘happy place’. It’s a neat ‘trick’ we L&Ders use. Basically you ask someone to think of a time they achieved something really special to them. You ask them to relive that moment, and describe everything about what made it so positive. You ask them to recall current feelings they’re feeling (which is hopefully positive) and how it’s making them feel. For this guy, his happy place was in getting his degree result. That’s certainly a good one to choose.
It took a few iterations of the exercise to help the group all find and secure themselves in their happy place. At the last exercise, where all were asked to do a final presentation, everyone was primed by getting to their happy place. The change we saw in this guy stays with me today. He stood tall and with a smile on his face. He delivered with clear diction and a clear flow. He found eye contact with everyone and maintained clear composure. His presentation had a clear structure and good argument. It was a world of difference from what we saw at the beginning of the session.
This is not a glib effort in relating this experience to the feat by Felix. It’s a response to the myth that only a few people can achieve their potential. We can all achieve our potential, for some it’s about jumping from the edge of space, and for others it’s about standing in front of a group of people and not losing face. It took Felix 7 years to get that jump right.