The following is a guest post by 7-time world champion skydiver and author of the book Above All Else, Dan Brodsky-Chenfeld.
It became obvious that the fight was going to happen. I was about to get beat up and it seemed there was nothing I could do to stop this inevitability. I was still backing off, apologizing and whimpering, when he hit me. I didn’t even hit back. I got up and ran but I wasn’t that fast and he caught me and beat me up again, just like I knew he would.
Besides being the smallest kid in school I was never much of a fighter. When I got picked on by bullies or conflicts occurred (as they always do with kids) I’d do everything I could to avoid getting in a fight. In the example above, I tried to talk my way out of it. I tried walking away. I apologized and took all the blame, but he just wouldn’t let up. And I let him decide what was going to happen. My reactions were scared and helpless. I was a victim of circumstance.
The next time I found myself in that situation, I acted differently.
I did all I could to avoid it, but again, it got to the point where I knew the fight was inevitable. This time I thought: If there’s no getting out of it, I may as well hit him first. If I throw the first punch I’ll probably have a chance to throw the second and third. That was it! Throwing the first punch was the leverage I was looking for.
That thought alone gave me a huge and immediate boost of adrenalin and confidence! It felt great. I was in charge now. I was thinking completely in the moment. I was deciding what was going to happen.
I hit him. I hit him again, and again. Then I ran like hell! But this time between the adrenalin and a good head start I got away. I may have been the one who ran away scared, but as I saw it, I won the fight. I hit him. He didn’t hit me. I win!
A new affirmation…
I then began to use this experience as a resource in my life. I even created a positive affirmation: Throw the first punch! It was short, to the point, and no matter what negative thoughts made it into my head, reminding myself to “throw the first punch” would trigger the right emotion and attitude and easily turn fears into determination.
It may sound a bit barbaric, but it worked perfectly for me. It also worked pretty darn well for “Airkix” and “Storm”, the last two women’s world champion skydiving teams I coached. And they are hardly cavemen.
When you feel performance anxiety…
You know the situations when you are going to feel performance anxiety. Don’t wait to see how things go. You decide. Make the first move. Start the conversation. Break the ice. Take charge. Step up to the plate. Throw the first punch.
Give it a try and let me know how it works for you.
As a rising star in the international world of skydiving, Dan Brodsky-Chenfeld survived a plane crash which killed sixteen of the twenty-two people on board. He was left critically injured and woke up from a six-week-long coma with a broken neck, cracked skull, severe head trauma, a collapsed lung and other serious internal injuries. Against all odds, Dan recovered and went on to lead the USA 4 and 8 person Skydiving Teams to multiple World Championships. He also put together a team of 300 skydivers and set a new World Record for the largest Freefall Formation.