Do the impossible: why is it easier to skydive from 4,000m than to start a business?

Do the impossible: why is it easier to skydive from 4,000m than to start a business?

Yesterday I was reading again about the coaching business I want to start, getting a lot of information on the market itself.

Well, it did not look that bright. Competition is hard, recognition difficult to get, money does not get in… over 60% of master’s graduates from in this field consider that it is not possible to make a living out of coaching only. Damn. And they only have one course about coaching in Paris… not that many people on the market!

For me, who wants to throw myself all in, it does not sound good.

And then I had one of these moments, having a deep vertigo about my whole project, telling myself:

“What am I Doing Here?”

This “feeling” was best described by Bernard Werber, one of my favorite science-fiction/philosophy writers, in his novel Les Thanatonautes (The Thanatonauts). His main character, Michel Pinson, has these kinds of moments, when he loses it. It usually happens just when he is in front of a crowd, about to speak.

You know, that feeling when you are really into the flow of something big, like climbing the ladder of the highest diving board and, when you get to the top, you pause. You start to look at yourself from a faraway perspective and you start thinking “But what the hell am I doing here? This is insane, I don’t even need to do this!”

It’s fear, in it’s plain, most present expression. We are usually good at recognizing it when it comes to diving from the highest diving board, doing a first skydiving jump, or going down a high-as-the-sky hill on a rollercoaster. Then again, it’s easier to overcome it in those situations because:

There are several things you can do to prevent that fear, such as 1. read an encyclopedia about rollercoasters and safety, 2. look at the track records of the ride to select the safest, 3. bring a reassuring friend, who loves the rides, to sit next to you, 4. Act mechanically, just close your eyes and dive… It’ll all help getting over that irrational feeling of “What am I doing here?”.

Now, this is also exactly what happens, when you are doing anything scary. From skydiving to writing a book and starting your own business.

The problem with the business or the book is that, most of the time, you don’t recognize the “What am I doing here?”-moment. In activities where you don’t feel your body directly in danger, it is very difficult to recognize plain fear from smart thinking. This is why, most of the time, when that plain fear happens, we tend to rationalize and give-up.

I am not saying that you should never give up a bad idea when it gets really stinky, but too many good ideas are given-up because of that plain fear, before even trying to overcome it.

This is why skydiving is easier than starting a business.

So now what can we learn from this?

Let’s try to apply similar tricks that will leave you “committed”, like the belts in a rollercoaster, to other life’s situation, like a project, let alone Your Life’s Project:

  1. Have people, to whom you feel accountable and who support your project (friends, family, online community, blog readers ;-) ). Like the people who watch you while you’re at the top of that dive board.
  2. Hire a coach, have a mentor, who can advise, reassure you, and push you in the void like a skydiving instructor, while keeping you safe
  3. Read about what you’re doing, get the “track records” of your rollercoaster, dig deeper. You may find why others failed, and therefore correct the path or even realize that you have a much greater chance than them at succeeding because your idea is just different, and you benefit from their teachings.
  4. Make it impossible to escape, like in a rollercoaster wagon. I find the accountability advice usually enough for that but some people like to get wild and just quit their jobs to challenge themselves. If you feel it is the solution and you have the closest people to you supporting this choice, then go ahead.

I remember a friend and colleague, who quit the job and industry she had grown to hate; without another opportunity behind, despite the common saying that “You never find a job if you don’t already have one” (yes I hate this but it is often true, especially when you are just building-up your resume and you’re not trying to find something you love, for yourself). I asked her if she did not want to wait until she found something else, and she said: “You know, I hate what I am doing, but the money is good and it’s keeping me busy… I need my time to think, and to search a great job for me. If I stay, I know I’ll never leave.” After she quit, she spent a couple of months resting at her parents’ (she was 30-something, still single, so no more income). Then she started looking for a job that really mattered to her. And she found one, in another industry, and I have never seen her happier. Sometimes, you just really need a break.

  1. It’s often better to just do and not think (like Tom Cruise learning how to really fight in The Last Samurai: “no-thinking”). Throw yourself in. Write, send emails, reach-out for help. Just do. The fear will fade as you act, and your problem may get solved even sooner than you realize.

As per my fear with the large difficulties to make a living out of coaching, I started by 5. just doing, sending out emails with my ideas to training centers, trying to get skype interviews to ask as much questions as I could. I was scared they wouldn’t even want to hear from me in the first place, but at least it was out.

Then I started 3. to dig-in deeper.

Turns-out the program is, in a great part, followed by people, who are already employed, and HR professionals. They can easily practice coaching internally without leaving their current job. They don’t need to try, and don’t really want to.
Turns out also that the program is mostly designed for practicing coaching in/for companies. The client base is small, because only large companies are ready to afford coaching, and only for their Super Star managers or teams. They are, therefore, really demanding in terms of credentials and past experience. In addition, the market is already maturing. Freshly out of the program, it’s difficult to get enough experience to be recognized, when targeted clients don’t even want to hear from you in the first place…

After this research I already think my idea of coaching has a chance, because what I want to do is different.

In addition I had some returns to my emails, people are excited with my project. Bingo!

P.S. Do you have any experiences with that “What am I doing here?” fear while working on a project? Did you find other ways to overcome it? If yes I’d be really happy to hear from you ;-)
Just send me an email.


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