Adventure-Seeking Astronaut Shares 4 Tips for Overcoming Fear
Turns out, this former astronaut, inventor, explorer and physician, Dr. Scott Parazynski isn't immune to fear, but knows how to manage it.
LOS ANGELES—Nothing compares to flying five space missions and summiting Mount Everest—unless you’re running a business. Turns out, the world’s most avid adventure seekers and entrepreneurs have more in common than we might think.
I had the chance to interview Dr. Scott Parazynski at the City Gala, an event that’s all about entrepreneurship and creating a brighter future through charity. Between climbing Everest, going to space five times and starting his own virtual reality hardware enterprise, Parazynski has had to face his fears in every situation imaginable.
Here are four things Parazynski does to overcome fear and achieve success despite insurmountable odds.
1. Take that first, bold step.
No one has ever achieved greatness for themselves or for others by sitting idly by. Whether you’re on an African Safari, deep sea diving or starting a passion project, Parazynski reminds us that the only way to find success is by simply trying.
“If the ship doesn’t ever leave the port,” he says, “you’ll never know what you can discover.”
2. Push past failure.
There is only one way to find success, and that is through failure. For every path that exists to achieve our goals, there are a dozen other ways we can mess it up.
But it is through these failures that we learn and grow—and succeed. Arianna Huffington was rejected by 36 publishers. Bill Gates watched his first company crumble. Steve Jobs was booted from his own company. These successful entrepreneurs didn’t let failure stop them, and neither should we. Pick yourself up, dust off and keep trying, Parazynski says.
3. Learn how to mitigate risk.
Parazynski, surprisingly, says that he is not a risk taker and that he is most definitely not fearless.
Instead, he prefers the title of “risk manager,” meaning he takes into account all the possibilities and outcomes that can happen and plans accordingly to ensure the highest chance of success.
As entrepreneurs, we accept many risks, from sacrificing personal capital and giving up a steady paycheck to trusting employees and betting on deadlines. Arm yourself with knowledge about the situation, be honest about your limitations, and explore any other unknowns to manage inevitable bumps along the way.
4. Look for opportunities to innovate.
Parazynski’s excursions are more than just adventures—they are also opportunities to innovate. Simply by existing in these extreme environments, Parazynski is inspired to think outside the box and imagine new ways that he can invent better technologies for society.
“Don’t look at where the problem is now,” he says. “Instead, look ahead and see where the problem might exist.” Of course, you don’t need to have a SCUBA suit or a spaceship to unveil ways to find inspiration–innovation is all around you.
With his unmatched experience, Parazynski is the kind of person who can offer real-world advice in literally any circumstance. But, as he states, he does experience fear—he just manages it. As we brave our entrepreneurial frontiers, we can also take that first bold step, push through failure, mitigate risk, look for opportunities to innovate and break barriers in the process.