|Take a tip from a sky diver: Don’t panic
By Kerry Hannon, Special for USA TODAY
Rich Fettke begins Extreme Success with a chilling stress-management exercise: He is jumping out of an airplane at 14,000 feet.
"I stood at this brink for one reason: I wanted to break through the unfounded terror I harbored about doing a solo jump," he writes.
During his jump, he kept grabbing – and missing – the rip cord to open his parachute.
"The harder I tried, the more I missed it." Then he stopped struggling, corrected his position, found the rip cord and landed safely.
And that is his message in brief. Once you stop struggling, you can conquer fear and go to new heights. Plus you’re elated, especially when, as in his case, you land safely. The fear is gone, the goal attained. Just jump with passion.
San Francisco-based Fettke, an extreme sports athlete, conducts seminars and workshops for entrepreneurs and business executives nationwide. Sometimes he takes clients on Outward Bound-type outings, such as rock climbing, bungee jumping and sky diving, "to help clients secure commitments" to paths to success.
He focuses on positive imagery. We’ve gone down this path before. None of this is all that different, but the approach is his. Fettke calls himself a success coach. His experience in extreme sports – bungee jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge and sky diving forays – taught him that extreme sport equals extreme success.
His message is zealous, but straightforward. It’s all about building on past successes to go into new areas and about taking risks. It’s about having the energy to face the next challenge. And, above all, to stop struggling.
Fettke emotes on the need to stay focused, take calculated risks, build your courage muscle. There’s no spinning your wheels or running in circles here. It’s all about going in the right direction – as well as slowing down and listening. You must differentiate what’s critical from what can be left behind.
His message, ultimately, is that most of us struggle against ourselves. His mantra: "If you ever start to panic or struggle, just stop. Be aware, and resume control."
There are famous quotes throughout, such as: "It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves," – Sir Edmund Hillary, mountaineer.
Fettke mentions that Robin Williams, the comedian, was voted least likely to succeed in high school. And that Charles Schulz’s cartoons were rejected by his high school yearbook.
Each chapter ends with a list of thoughts to remember, such as this Hopi saying: "One finger can’t lift a pebble."
Yes, these are platitudes and age-old thoughts, but Fettke tries to spin it in a fresh voice, and mostly it works. It is about creating your own dream and making it a reality. "If you know how to live in the present, the future will take care of itself," he writes.
Copyright 2002 — USA Today