Last week I was mentoring an RN who had just over twenty years of nursing experience. She had one of those backgrounds and skill sets that should have been the envy of the staff around her. She was considering a nursing career change and wanted to talk to me about legal nurse consulting. I asked what was holding her back from making a change and she told me flat out that it was fear. She was afraid to make a move that would affect her life, either for the positive or for the negative. I asked her how long she’d been considering a change and she told me three years – after a friend of hers had become a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant.
Her situation reminded me of a skydiving experience I had several years ago. In skydiving, you’re either out of the plane doing it or on the ground watching others free-fall. You’ll never experience the thrill unless you step out yourself.
For years I said I would never step out of an airplane unless it was with my two feet firmly planted on an air-conditioned jetway. I don’t care for cliff-hanging heights and I never really saw the point in skydiving.
Then one Saturday, I found myself stepping out of an open airplane door at 14,000 feet. The only other time I’d tasted air at that altitude was with my feet on the ground in the shadow of Mount Everest. Jumping out of an airplane was a much bigger step for me than hiking in the Himalayas. The experience brought back potent memories of my early fears in starting my legal nurse consulting business and reminded me of the success lessons I’d learned from facing those fears.
Success Lesson #1 – Face Your Fears and Commit to Step Out in Your CLNC® Business.
Why did I choose to step out? When three fearless, thrill-seeking staffers from Vickie Milazzo Institute decided to try skydiving, I felt I had no choice but to confront my fear of heights head on. After all, wasn’t I always the one advocating the virtues of risk taking? The timing of this adventure seemed poor since someone on my staff had recently talked to a nurse whose skydiving accident left her a paraplegic. Nevertheless, I committed to this adventure; and most important, to step out.
Success Lesson #2 – Set Challenging Yet Achievable Goals as a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant.
I had one goal and one goal only, and that was to step out. No fancy aerobatics – I wasn’t even prepared to jump solo like the paralyzed nurse had. Yet to meet my goal of jumping tandem, I had to step out voluntarily. Being pushed out did not qualify.
Success Lesson #3 – Take Formal Classes to Prepare for Stepping Out.
Even to jump tandem I needed instruction. One of the prerequisites for stepping out was to watch a video and take part in a one-hour class. The video was guaranteed to scare off anyone who was easily intimidated. It contained no less than five warnings about serious injury or death. I also had to sign a 10-page waiver that mentioned serious injury or death at least 10 times.
The instructor wisely balanced the seriousness of what we were doing by discussing the fun we would have and joking throughout the class. As the stress and anxiety among us mounted, giggles escalated into loud laughter. It made no sense, but I was strangely comforted by the fact that I was not the only person who was nervous.
Success Lesson #4 – Give Yourself Permission to Be Less Than Perfect Whether You Are Launching or Growing Your Legal Nurse Consulting Business.
Beyond my one goal of stepping out, I wasn’t concerned about anything else. I gave myself permission to forget everything I learned in class, do everything wrong and scream all the way down if that brought me comfort. If necessary, I could rely on my tandem master for everything and still have a safe trip down.
Success Lesson #5 – Check the Credentials and Success Status of Anyone Who Advises You. To Feel Safe and Accelerate Your Learning Process, Learn from a Master.
Before stepping out, I interviewed my tandem master, Scott, to assess his skydiving credentials. My spirits lightened dramatically when I learned he had made 4,500 jumps and competed internationally. It felt especially auspicious when he added that his first skydiving experience was in the womb at 6 months gestation. He was clearly passionate about skydiving, and I instantly felt safe with him. If I was going to entrust my life to someone, surely Scott was a good choice.
Success Lesson #6 – Own Your Fears and Share Them with Mentors You Trust.
I owned up to my fear and was heartened further by my tandem master’s encouragement and lack of judgment about my fear.
Success Lesson #7 – Know That It’s Never Too Late to Live Your Dream.
Scott boosted my courage even more by sharing that one of his clients skydived for the first time on her 85th birthday, again on her 86th birthday and again on her 87th, at which time she declared she wasn’t sure she could wait another year to do it again.
Success Lesson #8 – Choose for Yourself. Don’t Let Anyone Else Talk You Out of Your Dreams. Discard All Discouraging Messages.
That encouraging message triumphed over an earlier discouraging message by one of my staffers who was not skydiving that day. She and several others had joined us in our adventure as spectators.
She voiced her own fear with, “I can’t believe you’re really going to do this.” When I playfully reminded her that I thought she was there to encourage me, not discourage me, she said, “I’m here to talk you out of it.” Knowing she was expressing her fear from a place of love and concern, I chose to discard her message, still appreciating that she cared.
Success Lesson #9 – Surround Yourself with Friends, Family and Peers Who Encourage You to Live Your Dream.
After class, we had to wait 4½ hours to step out. Soon, she too, along with the Vickie Milazzo Institute team who came to watch, cheer and offer support from the ground, joined in celebrating. We had fun together as we waited and I trusted sharing this ride with my Vickie Milazzo Institute team on the ground and in the air.
Success Lesson #10 – Enjoy the Ride Along the Way. It Will Last Longer Than the Event Itself.
The truth is, we spent a lot more time on the ground than we did in the air (less than 5 minutes). The 4½-hour wait seemed eerily both like an eternity and like a brief moment. I was glad we had our Vickie Milazzo Institute team to party with while waiting. It definitely took my mind off my fear of stepping out.
Success Lesson #11 – HAVE FUN!
Scott wanted only one thing from me. Right before I stepped out, he said, “If you forget everything, it’s okay. You don’t have to be perfect. I’ll be with you all the way. Your only goal today is to have fun.” I thought it was a good idea to add FUN to my simple goal of stepping out. So, now I was going to have fun stepping out.
Success Lesson #12 – Take All the Steps Necessary to Achieve Your Legal Nurse Consulting Goal.
Once they called our jump-load, everything happened quickly. I put on my jumpsuit, and Scott helped me get into the harness. This simple act confirmed that I was in the hands of a calm, confident expert (or at least I felt that way).
I stepped onto the plane, putting on my best fake-calm face at the sight of the door that was to remain open for most of the flight. Scott talked to me the whole time to help me relax. When it was almost time to step out, everything shifted into high gear. I put on my helmet and goggles. Scott hooked my harness to his, assuring me that with each of the four connections, we were securely attached.
Suddenly, the two jumpers before me were gone, and it was my turn to step out. Moving toward the open door, I remembered the instructor’s motto, “Once you get in the plane, ‘No, No, No’ means ‘Go, Go, Go.'” Knowing I was about to leave the safety of this crude plane seemed almost surreal. Now it was time to apply what I had learned.
Success Lesson #13 – Step Out! It’s Scary but Worth Every Second.
I couldn’t learn to fly merely by hanging out at the flight center, watching a video, taking a class, watching someone else do it or by reading a book. I had to JUST DO IT! And I did. I stepped out. I accomplished my simple, but extremely difficult goal. The 60-second free fall at 120 miles per hour was both scary and exhilarating – and probably the longest 60 seconds of my life.
Success Lesson #14 – Embrace the Challenges You’re Capable of Handling in Your CLNC® Business Today and Expand Your Knowledge and Experience so You Can Tackle More Complex Challenges for Your CLNC® Future.
My body position was less than perfect. At this fast and furious speed Scott helped me arch into a better, yet still less-than-perfect position.
Meanwhile, the videographer jumping with us had to cut away from his malfunctioning main parachute, which had put him into a life-threatening spin. He relied on his extensive experience and training to calmly cut the cord and release his reserve chute. He continued to the ground where he completed filming my jump – all without blinking an eye. From a safe distance I was able to appreciate the complexities of this sport, and I was glad I wasn’t yet called upon to confront such a challenge.
Success Lesson #15 – Experience Every Aspect of Your CLNC® Goals Fully and Celebrate Each Stepping Out Along the Way.
When my 60-second free fall was over and my parachute opened, the pace of the experience quickly changed from a gallop to stillness and quiet. Houston is not known for its natural beauty, but the sinking sun never seemed more beautiful (even more beautiful than sipping sundowners on the Serengeti) than from my sky-high vantage point. The most exhilarating feeling of all was my feet hitting the familiar ground I had left only minutes before. I landed smoothly and easily, knowing I had done it. The champagne we all shared afterwards was the sweetest I’ve ever tasted.
To the RN who I mentored and all nurses and Certified Legal Nurse Consultants, I ask, “Do you have fears keeping you from stepping out to live your big dreams?” Launching and growing a legal nurse consulting business is a lot like skydiving, and the same success lessons apply. You have to step out if you want to fly high.
Step out to fly high today.
Success Is Inside!
P.S. Comment and share your stepping out experiences or your fears of stepping out as a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant.