The other day I was talking with a friend of mine about how most of the personal development and leadership courses and programs always have some kind of physical challenge for the participants to overcome. Tony Robbins has a firewalk, others have board breaking, or walking onto a pole wedged into your collar bone until it snaps, the pole that is! There are trapeze stunts, or jumping from one pole to another, the list goes on. They are all extreme physical acts that are supposed to be a metaphor for an emotional act. They are meant to make you believe that if you can do ‘X’ then nothing else would be a problem. So why don’t they work?
Let me lay my cards out first, I do believe that in some cases they can work and do work, but they do not work for everyone and I would go so far as to say they do not work for the majority of people.
And here is why I think this. Personal experience. I have been on the Tony Robbins firewalk, and I had no fear about it at all, well that was until Tony makes sure you do have fear. He spends a good hour warming you up, almost literally, to the idea that if you screw this up and have the wrong mental frame, then you are toast! You see even Tony knows that this does not work, it needs the emotion behind it to get anywhere near working and that is why he builds up the fear, so you take an emotional step not a physical one.
However for most of my life I have had what some would call a desire for excitement, and others would call a death wish! I have done anything and everything to produce that feeling of really being alive when you have adrenaline pump through your veins. I have skydived, bungeed, flown planes and helicopters, done aerobatics, kite surfed, driven fast cars and bikes close on 200mph, you get the idea. I don’t say this to impress but merely to show the lengths’ I have gone to, to feel alive!
So my point, well I can, will and have taken any physical step, even out of an aeroplane at 17000ft with little or no regard for my own well being, but I still struggle to find that power when it comes to emotional acts. Like what, well like cold calling a company trying to make a sale, like breaking up a relationship that wasn’t working, like asking the boss for a raise, in fact many things which don’t rely on me taking a step and gravity or a throttle doing the rest. I know I am not alone, I have spoken to several people about this recently and it seems that whilst the physical act can boost your confidence, it doesn’t really increase your chances of taking action if the job at hand is an emotional one.