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Learning to push through your fear factor

IF YOU'VE read any of our articles, you'll get the idea that we have had quite a bit of life experience.

Some of those experiences have been very challenging - near death and life threatening, some absolutely wonderful and life affirming.

One of those experiences was one about pushing through fear.

I had accepted a job on a shark fishing boat. I had no experience at sea, was totally green and had never spent more than a few hours on the water up to that point. I was also wonderfully optimistic, open to adventure and incredibly naive about what I was to embark upon.

The skipper was very patient. He was following his dream, built the boat himself from an old flat bottom 60-foot barge and installed a 27-tonne freezer unit in it to store our catch.

We would be at sea for weeks. I was hired as muscle and had to learn boat and fishing skills.

We would drop the net over the front of the boat and drift the boat off with the tide and low revs keeping the net attached to the boat - and it was a long net.

First night at the wheel after some instruction the skipper had gone to have a quick nap, thinking that little could go wrong. We were well clear of any sea lanes, and we'd got the net away cleanly.

I had to keep the boat drifting on a certain compass point after which we would drive up the net and check on any catch.

Well, driving a car and driving a vessel at sea backwards at night with no reference point other than the compass are totally different, as I was soon to learn.

After about an hour the skipper came up to check on how I was doing. I said fine but the steering is a bit sluggish. He looked at me, ran to one side of the boat then the other, jumped into the wheel house and turned to me with the most incredible expression on his face.

It wasn't anger or frustration, it was more amazement as though he was thinking "how did you manage to do that?"

Thinking to keep the boat straight I had managed to wrap the net around the boat at least twice.

He handed me a waterproof torch and said, "You need to go over the back of the boat, clear the net from the prop and then make sure it is free so we can get the motor started and get away from the coast, and you need to do it now!"

I did tell you we were shark fishing didn't I? So…I did.

Jack Canfield, author of Chicken Soup for the Soul, once said "everything you want is on the other side of fear". He's right.

Nick Bennett is a facilitator, performance coach and partner of Minds Aligned:

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