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Three Stages Of Change, And How To Manage Stress.

When I look back at why I wanted to become a pilot, it was to fulfil a boy hood dream.

I grew up in the 80’s, and yes I watched Top Gun, not only did I watch it, I purchased the cassette tapes, so I could listen to it on my Sony Walkman every night. (kids you may need to google what I’ve just said). 

My journey of becoming a pilot began in a gym, a simple conversation with the receptionist leading to a trial flight at a local flying school.

I was like a child at Christmas.

I was full of adrenaline and pumped ready for what would become a journey of  pure excitement and self discovery.

I’m passionate about learning, especially if it’s going to challenge me, and boy does flying a plane test you to the limits. 

I tend to learn mostly by making mistakes, sounds odd but bare with me. 

If I make the mistake once I learn from it, and tend not to make the same mistake twice.

This is where growth happens.

The three stages I want to talk to about today you may relate to from your own personal experience of taking on a challenge that scared the day lights out of you, or maybe even a task at work.

The first stage is where nothing happens, that’s right, you’ve probably already guessed what I’m referring to, it’s “The Comfort Zone’.

Where life just coasts by and before you know it, your almost dead, harsh but true.

It’s easy here, safe, comfortable, not threatening in anyway, it’s where we stop living. 

The next stage you’ll enter is the “Stretch Zone, it’s where you’ll feel nervous, challenged, motivated, and this is where the magic happens, this is where you start growing. 

And finally the “Panic Zone”, the Panic Zone is the area of things-to-be-avoided either because they are unacceptable to you or because they are currently a ‘stretch’ too far! 

This could range from things like public speaking at work, through to thinking about extreme sports on holiday. 

You may have activities in the Panic Zone which you wish were not there.

And personally I believe the Panic Zone is equally on par with the comfort zone, you freeze, procrastinate, get anxious and stressed, I certainly did.

This in the work place isn't a good place to be in, the pressures of work can build up and give your brain fog, and if you aren’t in a great place mentally can lead to sickness and unwanted days off.

I didn’t know I was going to go through so many emotions, and at times want to just give up, but I didn’t, I took a break, sat with it for a while and got back in the cockpit.

There’s one part of the final exam where the instructor pretty much throws you around in every direction, disorientates you and then tells you to recover the plane and fly back to the airfield, all in a matter of seconds.

You have to be seriously awake, and if you are that experience sure as hell wakes you up.  

I’m going to level with you now, I’m scared of heights, put me up a ladder on the side of my house and I’ll freeze, but put me in a plane and chuck it around and I’m happy as Larry.

I had to go to the panic zone to get to the stretch zone, I had to learn that it was ok to be scared, I had to be shown it could be done, make the mistake and get on with it.

I now know taking imperfect action is better than taking no action. 

I also use this model in my coaching and in my day to day life, even this week when I was asked to produce 5 different coaching programmes, talk about panic zone. 

The training I provide enables you figures where you are in any of the three stages, and helps you stay aligned, reduce your levels of stress and remain focussed. 

I’ve done it, I’m a pilot, and this feeling is immense. 

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