Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Can She Really Fly With Her Feet?

Can She Really Fly With Her Feet?

I was fortunate enough to meet Jessica Cox, the keynote speaker at Wire Me Awake, an entrepreneurial and community based event in Yankton, SD.  According to her website,
Jessica shows a member of the audience
how to greet a person with now arms...
you shake feet.
Source: https://www.facebook.com/WireMeAwake/
www.rightfooted.com, Jessica was born “differently-abled,” without arms. By teaching herself to constantly find ways to get past obstacles, Jessica has compiled an enormous list of other amazing feats including “receiving the Guinness World Record for being the first person certified to fly an airplane with only their feet.” As her introductory video played on the large screen, I heard something that made me think of an article I wrote a few months back asking, “Why Are People Afraid of Success?”  It occurred to me, the article may not have been very helpful. Why Are People Afraid of Success? only provided an explanation and maybe not a complete one, it didn't provide a way forward.

The Paradox

At the beginning of her video, Jessica told a story from her childhood of a vision she had while watching an airplane fly over the playground at her elementary school. She could picture herself flying high up in the sky, like a super hero. She'd swoop down and picking up friends and family members one at a time and show them the neighborhood from above. What got me thinking, was when the narrator spoke of her greatest fear...flying, as the video faded out signalling Jessica to come out on stage.  Later in her presentation, Jessica mentioned her fear of flying again, not just as a pilot but also as a passenger.  

One of the important messages Jessica delivers is: if you want to accomplish your dreams you need to learn to be fearless. Yet, she admittedly has had to overcome significant fears to achieve hers. 

The paradox? I'm not trying to split hairs on Jessica's message. I thought how interesting it is that what might have been Jessica's greatest dream was also her greatest fear.  I asked her about it during the Q&A. We also spoke about it following her presentation in a brief conversation. She said she'd never thought about the question before but she did clarify that she mainly feels fearful when someone else is flying the plane, like on a commercial airliner for example, but doesn't have the same level of fear when she's at the controls. Jessica's clarification helped me understand how her fear of flying fit into her situation but I sensed there was a more universal paradox to be explained. I couldn't stop asking myself the question, "Why do we need to overcome our greatest fears in order to achieve our biggest dreams?" Why are we afraid of success?

My Attempt to Explain the Paradox.

There are probably many answers to explain this paradox, but this one is mine. I don't wish to speak for Jessica and whether she agrees my answer applies to her, but I'd certainly be interested in her thoughts.

We dream of doing incredible things when we're kids because at that point in our lives, the time we'll be able to try it is intangible and abstract. The thought always includes the phrase "some day" as in "Some day, when I'm big enough, I'll fly." Because we don't get into the details of how we'll accomplish those dreams at that age, because of our limited knowledge and experience, we don't see the reasons why it could fail, so it remains in the realm of possibility.

I believe, when you have a dream of what you could be, it represents something that has importance to you at your very core. As long as it remains a vision, nothing can take the dream away from you. Through the course of living, growing and learning, you experience failures in which you focus on the results. For ease of reasoning, you attribute those results as highly probable outcomes in future situations in which similar conditions exist. You perceive there is a high probability the dream can be taken away from you if you try to accomplish it. You try protect it from the bad things your reasoning convinces you could happen to it

Jessica probably never viewed flying super-hero-style as realistic, but I'm guessing there is a connection between her desire to pilot an airplane and her vision as a small child. As she grew to adulthood and accomplished a number of similarly challenging things (scuba diving, surfing, etc.), she grew ever closer to believing it might be possible. But, she wouldn't know if it was possible until she tried.  There must have been a powerful fear that something insurmountable would get in her way. That fear would have to be overcome.

Think about how to apply this to your own life. What dreams did you have when you were a kid that you talk yourself out of trying now that you're grown up? 

Does your fear that failure will remove your dream from the realm of possibility cause you to protect your it and keep it safe. Do you recognize that attempting to preserve your dream and maintain the status quo actually creates the self-fulfilling prophecy that it will never be unrealized?

Can a person who has no arms earn a blackbelt in Taekwondo? Ask Jessica to show you hers. 

Can a person with no arms learn to fly with her feet?

Learning to Fly With Her Feet- The First of Many Problems

Jessica telling the story of how she
overcame an obstacle, strapping into
 an airplane seat harness,
at Wire Me Awake.
Once she determined she would attempt to fly an airplane with her feet, Jessica was faced with what might seem like an impossible obstacle, her instructor told her before any in-flight training could start, she needed to securely strap herself into the four-point harness in pilots seat. Can a person do that with no arms? 

The First of Many Solutions

At first, according to Jessica, fastening the four-point harness didn't appear to be possible.  But, she didn't just walk away. She figured it out.  How? 

  1. She thought about how important solving the problem was to her (Identified her Inspiration). 
  2. She thought about the nature of the problem.
  3. She thought about solutions that worked in the past that would conceptually work if she could effectively translate them to fit the current situation.
  4. She tried.
  5. She evaluated the results- What went wrong and what caused it?.
  6. She thought of ways to prevent the failure causes.
  7. She chose the best option and tried it.
  8. She repeated 1 through 7 until it worked.
Jessica Cox accomplished her dream because she didn't let the results from one situation dictate what she would do i the next. Jessica focused on the cause of the problem, rather than the problem itself, so she could identify what specifically needed to be changed in her approach. The changes in her actions caused the results to change incrementally until she got what she wanted. Jessica engineered her own success!

Getting herself secured into the harness was only one of many problems Jessica had to solve in her quest to become a certified pilot. Today, Jessica is a certified pilot! BOOM!

Few dreams come true without struggle. Most, like Jessica's example, require deliberate tenacity.

Some Questions to Ask Yourself

  1. What did you dream of accomplishing when you were a kid?
    • Are they still important to you?
    • Why?
  2. What challenges get in the way of accomplishing those dreams?
    • How many of those challenges were identified by you?
    • How many were identified by someone else?
    • How many relate to what other people will say about you when you try?
  3. How many of those challenges are imagined, untested or unqualified?
    • Are they even valid?
  4. Can you think of things you can do?
  5. Are you willing create real and qualified results by testing your solutions? 
  6. Are you willing to analyze, adjust and try again?
The truth is, as Jessica shows us, we are all "differently abled."  She can fly with her feet. 

Are you deliberately tenacious? What do you WANT?

If you'd like to learn more about Jessica Cox and how you can support her efforts to create a documentary about her life and her powerful message CLICK HERE.



UPDATE- 10/15/14- I liked the message in this article so much, it became a part of my new book FindingSuccess: Get what you really want. CLICK HERE to find out more about it.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” 
― Marianne WilliamsonReturn to Love: Reflections on the Principles of "A Course in Miracles"

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