New Year's Resolution: Find My Freak Out Zone, Mike Lejeune


One of my favorite things about New Year’s rituals is not the countdown, the ball dropping at Times Square or the midnight smooch. No my favorite is going through files from the past with a goal of cleaning out clutter in order to create a fresh start. I started 2014 rummaging through my desk and ran across an old USA Today article on Freak Out Points.


It’s that place where fear overtakes action and the brain backs you up instead of propelling you forward. Everyone has a different freak out point. Some of my childhood friends loved the carnival, which included gut wrenching rides. I sweated playing ring toss on the bottles trying to win the stuffed puppy to impress my latest crush. Jumping from planes, scaling mountains, attacking powder on the ski slopes are just some of the freak out points where people put themselves into situations where control is minimized, where answers for their survival are hard to come by.


So why do it?


CEO’s take on these challenges to help stretch the way their minds function under stress. Under times of intense pressure, our ability to focus and concentrate becomes tested. When I reached my 40s, I decided to take on the challenge of learning to ski. Skiing was not something that came easy for me; mainly because of the consuming fear I had once I snapped my boots into the bindings. The ride up the chair lift sucked the air out of my lungs, blurred my vision as if I were being forced to face some form of firing squad. I remember thinking “why would someone want to go outside in freezing, cold weather, strap two pieces of wood to their feet and then throw themselves down the side of a mountain?”


So why do it?


The obstacles and barriers we face in life have to do more with the way we think and the limitations we perceive, than those that are actually real. What the mountain tried to teach me was that the fear of falling had more to do with embarrassment rather than pain. Watching six year olds like my daughter whiz by me attacked my ego, steering my focus inward rather than on the task at hand. Concentration and focus applied to repeated practice began to give me the courage to take on more difficult terrain and increase my speed. Today, the mountain that was once a terrifying experience is now a climb I look forward to with excitement.


Muscle will atrophy if not tested and strained. Rather than building strength, it shrinks. And so will our abilities and skills needed to help propel us to the goals we pursue. What I realized as I fell my way down the mountain was that success is learned and earned through failure, that my confidence grew as my skill grew and not the reverse. What was difficult yesterday only became easier as I repeatedly stretched and challenged not only my action but more importantly my thinking.


As we begin this ew year, we are given a blank slate that will be filled in direct proportion to the amount of time we spend in the gap called the Freak Out Zone.


Suggested Action Items: 


  1. What do I need to do today that makes me feel uncomfortable?
  2. What belief do I need to change that limits me from achieving more out of this day?
  3. What interferes with what I am supposed to be focused on RIGHT NOW?

What is your freak out point?