Having faced my share of fight or flight, and all of the aforementioned with the exception of sailing around the world ... that's coming, I began to wonder what sets people apart. This was spurred on by a conversation with my friend Steve, and kindred spirit, as he faces challenges.
What separates those that do take the risks and those that don't? When I look deep inside, at that moment of truth, that final moment, that last turning back is possible moment, what I find is stillness of mind ... a clarity of purpose ... almost no thoughts ... no thoughts of the consequences (positive or negative) ... only of the task at hand. In this moment, time slows almost to a stop. You feel like you have an infinite amount of time. I suspect it is here that for those that chose flight, doubt and negative consequences creep in. When I've trained, prepared, and considered an action fully, doubt never enters my mind at this crucial moment. The consideration part is crucial.
In my mind, before I face the moment, I've thought through the good, the bad, the beautiful, and the ugly. Without fail, in my mind I am able to figure out how I would recover from a negative consequence if one were to occur. Sure, they might be self delusional (like, if my parachute doesn't open, I will aim my body towards a lake to glide into the water), but very few moments we face in modern society have mortality consequences and all of the moments we face are recoverable. I have complete confidence that I can recover.
We all have different thresholds for what will constitute the fight or flight moment, but we all face them. Next time you're in that moment, study what happens to you. Are you able to take that step into the abyss, free of negative thoughts at that moment of truth? If you are not free of negative thoughts, then you won't take the step. Clear your mind and go. Take the step. Short of a stepping off an airplane at 13,500 feet, your negative consequence isn't likely to be mortal anyway.
So, you can sit on the sidelines and watch others do amazing things in life, or you can step out and be an amazing thing in life.