Here’s the wiki if you aren’t familiar with Felix Baumgartner.
In a nutshell, he broke some records yesterday. Oh, and he also broke the sound barrier. He now holds the record for the highest freefall jump ever — approx 24 miles high, far above where jet planes travel, and approaching the “edge of space.” He fell at a rate of 834 mph (mach 1.24), successfully deployed his parachute at the appropriate time and landed gently, in tip-top condition. This Austrian BASE jumper is a man of few words, much to the dismay of the hungry press.
What does this have to do with you?
When’s the last time you did something that scared the crap out of you? He’s not really fearless…. in one interview, (the super handsome) Felix says the fear keeps him focused on what he needs to do. Can’t have your mind wandering in a daredevil stunt like that, can you? One tiny tear in his suit and he would have been toast. Actually, one of any of 100 things could have gone wrong, but — happily for Felix and his fans — nothing untoward happened.
I can think of at least a dozen fears that might keep a ‘normal’ person from pulling a stunt like Felix’s:
– fear of heights
– fear of flying
– fear of open spaces
– fear of death
– fear of dark
– fear of public speaking (imagine the press conferences! the late night talk show invites! the fan mail! the facebook friend requests! the people stopping you on the street!)
– fear of failure
– fear of success
– fear of everything
– fear of fire (incidentally, this is one of the MOST searched fears according to Google’s keyword finder tool)
– fear of phobias (yes, this is actually a real thing!)
Yes, there would be many reasons NOT to do such a daredevil act. But what reasons to do it?
– 15 minutes of fame (maybe longer…Joseph Kittinger held the prior record of a freefall jump from 19 miles high — he was the world record holder from 1960 until yesterday!)
– fortune (the sponsorships alone…Felix’s project was funded by — fitting enough — Red Bull)
– pride, sense of accomplishment
– desire to be a pioneer — explore unexplored territory
– adrenaline rush
– to see if it could be done
– to prove it could/couldn’t be done
– because you really, really want to.
Now here’s the part I personally find fascinating….
He has succeeded, and is currently experiencing his 15 minutes of fame. Many are awed, impressed, inspired. The technology he helped develop (and let’s not forget test in real-world scenario!) has other implications for use, which could have a positive impact on future space research and generations to come. At the very least, his name goes in the history books.
But what if he had failed?
No doubt he would have been greatly criticized, even admonished, for pulling such a foolhardy stunt. Parents all across the globe would have used poor Felix as an example to their children of what happens when you follow a foolish dream to its terrible end. He would have died perhaps the most misunderstood man in ages. And all but his friends and family would have forgotten his name within days. You know it’s true — in less than 24 hours, the water cooler comments would start with “Did you hear about that guy….” without even a name.
So what’s the lesson then?
Following your dreams takes diligence and preparation. You must become immune to what the naysayers think. And please — have your OWN reasons for doing it. Because there is nothing sweeter than the satisfaction of succeeding knowing you did it for YOU, not for anyone else. And if you fail, and the absolute worst should happen (you die! which let’s face it, is not a reality for most of our dreams! For the vast majority of us, the worst that can happen is humiliation or some wasted resources of time, effort, money — all of which pales in comparison to loss of life). If the worst should happen and you die, at least you died doing what you were most passionate about. You didn’t tiptoe quietly to that grave with your dream still alive inside you, dying of slow and painful suffocation.
Go for it! Follow your dreams, naysayers be damned.