Face Your Fears


During his years of service in the Canadian Armed Forces, Sean Bacon jumped out of countless airplanes as a paratrooper. You’d never guess this wild fact: He’s afraid of heights. But he wasn’t about to let that fear get in the way of accomplishing the mission, Sean leveraged the mental toughness required to jump out of a perfectly good airplane time and time again. 

In the words of former Navy SEAL Jocko Willink, author of the “Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win” leadership manual: “There is no growth in the comfort zone.”

And there’s no flying when your feet are on the ground, either.

Leaving the comfort zone is required simply to step into an airplane and leave the earth, let alone leap out of one on your own volition.

Do you remember how you felt before your first flight? Did you have some fear and experience butterflies? Perhaps you were nervous about mechanical issues, operator error, turbulence or the thought of coming back down to the earth at intense speeds?

Some people let their fear of flying keep them on the ground their entire lives. A whole new world opens up to those who forge through that fear and place their faith in the modern technological miracle of flying. Human ingenuity has made it so flying miles above the ground at hundreds of miles per hour is about the safest way to travel. You’re more at risk driving to the airport than flying to the next one.

Over time, people who travel via airplane generally overcome their fear of flying at least to the point where they don’t let it dictate their decisions and limit their traveling options. They might be more fearful of who’s going to sit next to them or using the lavatory than actually flying.

Mental toughness isn’t about surviving adversity. It isn’t about making it through. It’s about embracing adversity. It’s about embracing the conflict in your life and really owning the ground, making it yours and turning it into a success. It’s about stepping into an airplane, even if you’re jittery, because of the importance of getting to your destination. It’s about jumping out of an airplane, even when heights scare the daylights out of you, because there’s a mission to accomplish on the ground and that’s the most efficient way to get there.

We often underestimate ourselves. We often limit ourselves to what we think we can do. We stay on the ground when we could be soaring above. Sean’s mission is to change people’s perception of mental toughness — to help leaders and teams succeed in the face of fear and failure instead of planting their feet in their comfort zones.

You don’t know how strong you are until strong is the only choice you have. Don’t let your fears keep you grounded.

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