There was a popular book published a couple of years back called ‘Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway’. The author, Susan Jeffers, encouraged readers to confront their fears by doing the very thing that they were afraid to do. Sounds like a plan!
Flying Career: I have punched in a lot of air miles over the years. I worked in Australia many times and lived in Singapore for a couple of years, travelling throughout Asia. I also ran consulting assignments in dozens of other countries, including most parts of the US and South America. But, I’ve never really liked flying and am always happy to touch down. I know it’s stupid – an irrational fear – but it’s there. My wife, who has no fear of flying, keeps telling me it’s ridiculous. She is afraid of cats so, to get even, I ask her:”When was the last time someone was mauled to death by a moggie?” That’s the thing about phobias. They make no sense. The only thing that’s real about them is the panic. And people who are afraid of flying constantly top up that fear, watching ‘airline porn’ (60 Minutes to Disaster’ type programmes).
Saturday Training: Annoyed at myself for generally being ‘chicken’, I booked in for a day long course called Fly Fearless – held close to Dublin airport (www.flyfearless.com). The course (€150) is run by Michael Comyn, a former pilot with a lot of empathy for nervous passengers. The first part of the day is structured around ‘how an aircraft flies’; the second part, focuses on a range of cognitive behavioural therapy exercises. I probably enjoyed the engineering more than the psychology, but everyone on the course was looking for different things. Knowing how the basic mechanics of an airplane work, understanding the different ‘sounds’, the strict licensing regime for pilots (driving test every six months), how aircraft handle lightening etc. were all helpful – as were the statistics. It really is the safest way to travel. Soundbite: At any one time, about 260,000 people are flying around Europe – with 3 million people flying everyday worldwide (have a look at http://www.flightradar24.com). How many of them are involved in accidents? The percentages are miniscule. It was also good to know that flying when you are hungry, angry, lonely or tired all add to the stress levels (so the people who want to get to the airport really early, grab something to eat and just chill out might have been right all along).
Did It Work? Well, I can’t really answer that because I haven’t flown since. I’m due to hop over to Leeds at the end of the month and also to Faro – so the ‘new improved me’ will shortly have a first outing. But win, lose or draw, I’m glad I completed the programme. Because the only failure in life is to stop trying. So, what are the issues that you have been meaning to tackle but never seem to find time to address?
Worst comes to worst, I can always go back to my tried-and-tested pre-flight routine: 3 pints of Heineken and singing along with the I-Phone. For the sake of future airline passengers, let’s hope it dosen’t come to that!
PS Joke of the week award to a client who described the current crop of Presidential candidates as ‘forgotten but not gone’. Clever cynics are great company.