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What Felix Baumgartner can teach us about setting big goals

If you weren't among the millions who watched live on TV or online yesterday, Felix Baumgartner jumped out of a capsule 22 miles in the sky, broke the sound barrier on his way down, deployed his parachute, and landed on his feet. Here's a quick recap:

Seems awesome, right?

Of course it is. It's supposed to be. No one else has done it. To even dream up a big goal like this is Herculean. He's grabbing headlines and history with a single fall, captivating all of us who also have a dream of doing something big.

But, here's what I've found buried in each story about this man:

Although he had no trouble jumping off buildings and bridges, and soaring across the English Channel in a carbon-fiber wing, he found himself suffering panic attacks when forced to spend hours inside the pressurized suit and helmet. At one point in 2010, rather than take an endurance test in it, he went to an airport and fled the United States. With the help of a sports psychologist and other specialists, he learned techniques for dealing with the claustrophobia.

Meaning, that if they had needed to abort yesterday's mission at any point or he decided the risk wasn't worth it, he'd still have accomplished quite a lot. The overcoming or dealing with claustrophobia is a milestone in and of itself. For Felix, it took flying to the top of the world to tame it.

And that's the thing about all of our big goals. On the way to reaching them, we'll likely accomplish a lot of little ones in the process. The big achievement will get us noticed; the thousands of little triumphs will keep us going.

So, set big goals. But celebrate what happens en route to achieving one. You'll become better in the process, which should be the point of any big goal all along.

WorkSam DavidsonComment