When I started my business almost 30 years ago my prospect and client base were located close to home. Transportation to and from meetings was a relatively minor issue. Between my car, the subway and other mass transit, I made it everywhere. I would leave in the morning and return in the evening with nary an overnight. And business prospered.
Several years in and after some growth, however, I found this situation changing. I began to work with a consulting company that brought me into their clients to conduct sales training. The companies were large and spread out across the United States. My business went from 0% travel to something closer to 35%, all of it on airplanes.
I felt the transition in two distinct ways: 1) the clients were larger, were more accepting of higher rates and often called on me for multi-day or week-long engagements (that was good!), and 2) I suddenly became petrified to board a plane (that was bad!).
At no time did my fear of flying force me to stop traveling to work with a geographically distant client. I never got to that level, but there were times when I contemplated taking the train to Chicago, Salt Lake City, Denver, and San Francisco, all cities I had to visit for my clients. Still, I never followed through with canceling my flight and booking an overnight cross-country Amtrak ticket instead.
After several big work trips—and more than one delayed flight—I realized that I needed to truly overcome the anxiety I still had before, during, and after a flight. (Counting the minutes and downing drinks until we landed was just not helping.)
And so I took action.
I read self-help books on how to conquer fears and phobias, and I underwent hypnosis therapy as well. I also researched facts and figures about airline safety in general hoping that I would become more confident with knowledge. (It is absolutely true, I now know, that airplanes are among the safest modes of transportation, far safer than my own car.)
And it worked. All of my efforts paid off in a very noticeable way. Although I didn’t eagerly await my next flight, I also didn’t approach the date with fear and loathing. I substituted sleepless nights and an inability to eat with calm certitude that all would go well and there was nothing to worry about.
The point here is that I didn’t let this obstacle—fear of flying—defeat me. I took the necessary steps to improve the situation and was determined to succeed. It’s something that entrepreneurs know intimately. We confront at our obstacles head on, then take the steps to rise above the challenge regardless of what they might be.