It is one thing to study war and another thing to live the warrior’s life.
—Telamon of Arcadia, mercenary of the fifth century B.C.E., as quoted in The War of Art, p. 61.
Study is a good and necessary stepping stone to life. Telamon no doubt had to “study” to sharpen his battle skills with sword and spear. But at some point, he had to “enlist”—he would have to join an army and put his studies to the test.
Austrian adventurer Felix Baumgartner is a modern example of someone who chooses the warrior’s life.
On Oct. 14, 2012, Baumgartner set several world records as he stepped out of a capsule that had ascended to 128,100 feet, suspended by helium balloons.
What we miss is that Baumgartner actually passed through the liminal dimension not when he stepped out of that capsule but on the day he started down the path to set this record.
Together with a team of high-speed flight experts, Baumgartner prepared for this moment for five years. For example, the David Clark Company modified a high-altitude pressurized suit to protect his body as he crossed the 62,000’ Armstrong line.
Baumgartner trained to overcome the claustrophobia of being in a pressure suit head to toe for up to five hours. A former BASE jumper and helicopter pilot, he learned to maneuver his suit while hurtling at supersonic speeds.
Most importantly, he learned via training to distinguish between what he had no control over— mechanical operations—and what he could control—his physical, mental and spiritual preparation as well as what actions he would choose once his capsule achieved proper altitude.
Exiting his capsule is but an echo of that long-ago decision.
Here’s what happened on Oct. 14, 2012:
•Baumgartner jumped from 128,100 feet, setting a record for longest free fall (119,846 feet).
•He encountered spinning problems: during a 40 second spin, he was able to regain stability, staving off the potential dangers that they had anticipated.
•He set an unaided speed record: 833.9 mph/Mach 1.24.
•He set his records exactly 65 years after Chuck Yeager first broke the sound barrier in an experimental rocket-powered airplane.
Here’s what didn’t happen:
•He didn’t black out from lack of oxygen.
•His skin didn’t boil; the suit held up!
•Baumgartner didn’t experience excessive G-forces that could have torn his body apart.
Steven Pressfield reminds us in The War of Art that a professional is distinguished from an amateur by loving what s/he does enough to choose to do it full time while not, ironically, becoming confused with his role. Baumgartner is an example of one who lives the warrior’s life of continual preparation for the moment of stepping through the liminal dimension of action.
What “astronomical” challenge might you might be facing? What road less traveled might you consider taking?
This week, consider what aspect of your business you have over-simulated or over-studied. In which areas are you ready to commit to the life of the warrior?
A few ideas:
•Set in motion your plan to gain new clients.
•Call your current best clients.
•Take “bigger clients” than you think you can handle.
•Best the demons within that say, “I can’t.”
•Playing “small” to avoid risks.