Yes, I know that’s completey mad and irrational but just ask Mark Barrett from Diageo and Alan Bell from M&C Saatchi Abel South Africa what happened when they took me for a client meeting in an aquarium in Durban 6 years ago. Not the client engagement they were hoping for.
So given this fear, what would be the worst thing in the world for me when it comes to adventure & endurance sports?
Yup – A 2km Ocean Swim. But not just any Ocean – The Indian Ocean just off the coast of Perth – the most deadly coast for shark attacks since they have been recorded. The statistics say that there have been an average of 11.7 shark attacks a year in Australia since 1980 and 42% of shark related fatalities have happened in Western Australia*.
Actually these scary facts are exactly what helped me conquer my fears and learn 5 things about what happens when you face your fears.
1. Look at your fear rationally
In reality I was more likely to get run over on my bike in Amsterdam than eaten by a shark. Equally how much bigger am I than all those little fish looking up at me….? Looking at the statistics and hard facts does help put some manners around your fear. I remember when I first met my husband he was completely terrified of flying – I bought him a book on “How a plane really works”. I now can’t get him off planes – he is a complete flying geek!
2. Embrace your fear & it will make you feel more ‘present and in the moment’ than you can ever imagine
I will not lie I was completely terrified treading water at the start line in Perth…the 100m ‘warm up’ swim with my best friend Kirsty had got my heart pumping and every inch of me was shaking, I had to have a huge word with myself to just focus on the race in hand and get it done. BUT right at that moment, I didn’t think about a single other thing in the world..I wasn’t a mum, a wife, a friend, a founder…I was just Fluff in an ocean with a job to do! There’s something quite liberating about losing the daily “to do list” and being your original you.
3. You learn a lot more about your strengths & passions
Having my head down, fearfully trying to avoid eye contact with anything resembling a fish for 45 minutes made me focus my mind on what I can do – I’m a natural swimmer having spent the majority of my childhood swimming up and down Hatfield swimming pool (Thanks mum and dad for thos 5.30 am starts – sorry:-)!)…and actually I find it calming on my mind, I should use it more as a meditation tool. Equally I do LOVE the water and when the sun came through the waves half through the race I did enjoy the moment. I’M NOW EVEN MORE DETERMINED, I will make more of my time in nature and playing in the waves. Hence I’ve signed up to the wavemaker retreat in Portugal this May (http://www.wavemakercollective.com)
4. You are not alone
Well I had 999 other people swimming next to me during my race in Perth! But the point is this – I was with like minded people in the ocean that day – all facing their own elements of fear and nerves but all determined to make the race work for them. There’s a special moment in finding the Tribe, Community or just a few friends you can take on a challenge with and face that fear.
5. The reward
I DID it! Just being able to say that feels great and is reward enough but now I know I can take on even bigger challenges. I’ve grown just that bit more and I’ve conquered my own personal milestone and I know I’ve got an even deeper resolve inside me that I can always rely on.
Imagine yourself after you’ve faced someting you’re scared of – how could that help you grow and progress? Whether it’s presenting to a big group of people and making them see your special point of view, scaling a height to see a different view of the world or just facing an animal you are scared of and seeing how naturally beautiful it is! I challenge you all to take that step and embrace it for what you’ll find on the other side!
Anyone fancy a swim?!:)
*Data from the Shark Research Institute’s Global Shark Attack File, determining hotspot coastal locations around the country where 317* unprovoked shark attacks have occurred between 1990 and 2017.