Fear... That crazy feeling that can consume and cripple us, OR move us to do incredible and great things in our lives.
I would like to share with you how I have learnt to dance with fear and used fear positively in helping me to progress from gymnast to stunt-man. How I’ve learnt to use fear to become more confident and how I overcome fear when I am faced with scary stunt scenes on movies.
It is no coincidence, that learning how to dance with fear was taught to me by my gym coaches at my gym club when I was a child!
We all get scared about various things in life and at various stages, but it is how we choose to handle that feeling that determines either a positive or negative outcome.
Step back in time to 1985 and I’m 8 years old. Mum’s driving me to my local drama club and I’m sitting in the front seat of our Vauxhall Nova as scared as can be about the drama class that awaits me.. I don’t want to go inside to do the class. I don’t feel good enough. I feel out of my depth. I feel ‘afraid’.. Afraid of what ‘might’ happen. Mum drops me off and I run inside, I’m almost physically sick with fear….I feel uncomfortable, awkward and totally petrified. I’ve been going for months and I feel the same each time. I hate this feeling and just want it to go away. The feeling subsides when I realise I am in a fun, safe and exciting environment and I’m doing something that I just love. WOW, the crazy feeling of fear and how irrational it really is!
And that's just it, it is truly irrational and it actually isn’t real (its just a feeling).. We tend to get afraid of what ‘might’ happen, before we have even faced the situation!
I’m sure you can relate to this in your own life, the anticipation of something that fills you with dread and fear, to then actually being there doing it and saying to yourself ‘this really isn’t that bad’, to the feeling of accomplishment when that ‘thing’, whatever it might be, is all over! ‘WOW, what was I actually afraid of anyway?!’
Now fast forward 20 years and I’m being directed by Guy Ritchie on the big screen with Jude Law and Robert Downey Junior in the opening sequence of Sherlock Holmes the movie. I’m in my stride, feeling confident, fear free and totally enjoying the ride! Jude and Robert are doing their crazy vocal warm ups before our scene and and I’m stretching out my neck after Jude’s rather ‘realistic’ headlock in rehearsals.. We’re fighting and acting on camera and Guy Ritchie is telling me to “Die slower Rich”’ It truly was a fun, exciting and an awesome scene to be part of.
So what got me from fear to a confident stuntman working with Hollywood’s top A listers being directed by people like Guy, Tim Burton, Kenneth Branagh and Danny Boyle. To being set on fire, hit by cars (yes they really do hit you), jumping out of buildings and other various ‘scary’ stuff?
I was not a naturally confident child. But I was determined to learn how to not be afraid and I was fortunate that through my gym club I was already learning ways to trick my mind into believing that I could do things, through learning NEW skills. Yes, gym club taught me how to turn fear into excitement!
HOW?... By seeing (visualising in my mind) the scary stuff (in the case of in the gym, the skills) as already done and already completed, successfully, safely and without a hitch.
And this is how we teach skills at Flair to the children: By them first watching the skill, then seeing themselves (in their mind) doing the skill, through to attempting the skill and perfecting the skill. It is how all ‘TOP’ athletes and leaders learn and perform. It’s called a mental rehearsal.
Another skill I combine with the ‘mental rehearsal’ and something that I work on daily is to force myself to do things that ‘appear’ scary (getting out of my comfort zone.) I then ‘choose’ in my mind the feeling of ‘excitement’ (by using the above visualisation) in place of the feeling of fear and enjoy the rush of adrenaline that ‘excitement’ brings. Your mind then learns to replace fear with excitement whenever you get out of your comfort zone.
- Fear is a feeling, created from a thought of a future event that may or may not happen.
- You can consciously choose how (positively or negatively) you think about things.
- You can choose to turn fear into ‘excitement’ by visualising a positive outcome
- Confidence comes as a bi-product of achieving our goals.
- You can overcome fear by always living outside of your comfort zone.
- Failure is just feedback.
Going to gym club ‘consistently’ and sticking with gymnastics, trampolining or freerunning classes will, without a doubt, grow your children’s confidence and advance their life skills, teaching them to dance with fear and use it to their advantage and who knows where it will lead them!
You are writing the story of your life... Choose to write an outstanding one and to dance with fear!
Founder & CEO of Flair Gymnastics