The headset crackled in my ears, but the countdown didn’t yet begin. We were stacked on a door of a target that we were conducting a Close Quarter Battle (CQB) training mission on. The explosive charges had been placed on doors, snipers were in over watch ready to fire if we were compromised.
My right leg started shaking. You probably know the feeling. You might have done some rock climbing or you might have climbed a ladder painting your house and experience what is known as sewing machine leg. Your leg starts shaking violently. On top of that, my heart was beating really fast and the blood was pounding in my head.
These feelings or symptoms are the same ones someone feels if they are very scared…or very excited.
Fear and Excitement
What gets a lot of people stuck in achieving what they want in life is that they mistake fear for excitement. Now in my example above, I wasn’t scared. I knew what I was doing, my team mates around me were extremely good at what they did. On top of that it was a training mission so there wasn’t anyone shooting back. I was just extremely excited. I knew in a couple of minutes the explosive charges would explode only a few feet away from us and we would go in shooting.
Whenever we move out of our normal way of doing things or something with high sensory input we trigger the flight or fight response. Our bodies start manufacturing adrenaline and shunting blood away from the extremities. It is a primitive survival mechanism. These reactions are the same for fear and excitement.
You Have to Be Smarter Than Yourself
You just have to be smarter than yourself and recognize what you are feeling isn’t a stop sign but rather a go, go, go signal with the associated resources to make it happen.
First step is to recognize what is going on. You are moving into new territory and your body prepping you to be successful.
Second step is to apply whatever controls you need for the particular mission. One way to calm yourself down is what I used to do when my blood started to pound as in the example above is by consciously clamping down on my vargus nerve. The vargus nerve slows down your heart beat. It is also the same muscle/nerve that you use when you do a #2. All you have to do is bear down on it and you will slow your pounding heart down. There are other techniques – deep breathing, mediation, you get the idea. The point is you, not your body should be the one in control.
Execute, Execute, Execute
Finally the call came over the radio. The commander broke squelch, “I have control, I have control, I have control.”
I had the calmness to go into the house and conduct the training mission.
“Five…, four…, three…, two…, one…” The charges blew, the snipers fired.
“Execute, execute, execute.” And in we went.
Remember use the excitement, do let the fear rule you.
Just Get ER Done!
In what part of your life have you mistaken excitement for fear? Let me know in the comments.