When I started sailing aged eight I was scared of just about everything, I didn’t like climbing trees, cold water or riding my bike fast. I was timid, badly dyslexic and the first time I went sailing I was terrified. And it’s only now, nearly six years after sailing around the world that I’ve had time to reflect on how I overcame those fears.
Watch a snippet of when Jessica’s boat sailed into Sydney Harbour. Post continues after video…
In the time since the voyage, I’ve had the incredible privilege of meeting a wide range of sports stars, from surfers to cricketers and rugby players. What’s more, I’ve been lucky enough to spend time and even count myself friends with a crowd who have an impressive appetite for pain, suffering, isolation and extreme temperatures: AKA adventurers. And I’ve come to an interesting revelation about this crowd of overachievers: they are not the gung-ho, adrenaline junkies you might expect, and many have overcome fears themselves.
Of course, this is a generalisation. But the sports stars that become legends, and the adventures who make history, strike me as calculated and cautious. Certainly not the fearless supermen and women my younger self had imagined.
Recently, any remaining illusion that these superstars might be fearless was torn apart when I sat down in a room full of sportsmen (sadly not women) at the top of their various games. I won’t tell you their names as the meeting was held on the condition of anonymity, but I can assure you that an enthusiastic autograph collector wouldn’t have been disappointed.
I sat surrounded by an impressive collection of muscle, and participated in what was basically a giant D&M. A range of topics were covered, but the one that really struck me was fear. One after another of these men shared, in gruff manly tones, their experiences of feeling scared. Each had their own unique fears and strategies to manage those fears, but I was struck by the similarities and key themes that emerged. Of course, we all have to work out our own ways of defeating our personal demons, but I thought I might share a few of the things I’ve learnt from legends of sport and adventure in the hope that they might be applied to everyday fears.