I have to tell you that for someone who gets claustrophobic and who is terrified by the idea of being underwater without air…getting my diving certification was a big deal. It was going to really involve mentally pushing through my fears and focusing to get through the skills I needed to learn. And I have to tell you…a LOT went wrong.
- I wasn’t aware that I needed to have the online learning done before coming in on day 1, and so I was up until 2 in the morning getting through the entire online course before class on day 2.
- A wasp flew directly in my face and I dropped my air tank on the ground.
- My mask was too big and kept leaking.
- My regulator wasn’t working properly at one point and every time I tried to perform the skill where I was required to remove my mask and breathe for a minute without it on (WITHOUT holding my nose), I would suck in air. (I will add that I did perfectly fine when I switched regulators.)
- My mask was too tight when I was 20 feet below the surface and every time I tried to clear it, it flooded worse, until I finally was forced to surface.
Let me say that these problems did nothing to EASE my fears. After the final dive where I finally relaxed, the instructor pointed out that that was the first dive where she hadn’t noticed me shaking. Great.
On the bright side, I finally conquered my fear. Or at least enough to finish my certification!
I was thinking about it on the drive home today…how in business, we hit road blocks and things go wrong and some days we just want to throw in the towel (pun not intended). The idea of embarrassing ourselves or screwing up is just too dang scary to even think about. Who the heck do we think we are, anyway?
There are so many voices inside our heads that tell us all the things that could go wrong…but it’s in those moments we need to just focus on the task at hand. Just get through that moment, and then the next moment, and the next… until you realized that you’ve passed the test. Your fear may not go away, mine certainly didn’t! But if you keep learning the skills you need to pass those tests you will be successful (even if you get a few bumps and bruises along the way).
And like in diving, make sure you don’t go it along. Have a dive buddy, or in the case of business, an accountability buddy. Someone who can help you deal with being overwhelmed and can help keep you on track. Let your accountability buddy be that person you share air with when you’re 40 feet under and terrified to move.