On Sunday, I will attempt a 1.2 mile swim in the Pacific Ocean as part of a Half Ironman Triathlon race. What makes me nervous, as I’ve been training, are the waves that will shove me like a rag doll away from the buoys located only 200-300 yards in front of me. I’ve been practicing and prepping the techniques we imagine I’ll need to handle it. I’m still nervous, but also feel as prepared as possible for the physical realities.

When I was telling a friend about this mildly crazy endeavor, she pointed out another threat – sharks. “Oh, Right. They do live in that ocean,” I thought. But, my rationalizing/denying brain immediately stepped in.

“They won’t come around with 4,000 swimmers in the water!” I casually retorted.

“Or they are thinking, ‘Mmmmmm … buffet,’” she quipped back.

Good point, I thought. Good point.

For well-organized races like these, they use boats, shark repellant and all manner of other things to keep us safe in the water. I’m not a statistician, but I’m guessing the risk of us getting injured due to exhaustion is a far greater than that of being bitten by a shark. Still, it’s natural, and even appropriate, to think of sharp-toothed threats lurking beneath the water.

Whether its ocean waves, exhaustion or sharks that we anticipate, our risk-management brains are often, if not always, on high alert when we are thinking about taking a plunge into unknown waters. The idea for my new consulting business had actually come together in my mind several months before I began the process of launching it. I held back, at least in part, out of fear that no one would want what I’m offering. The shark in the water, in this case, was fear of rejection.

How can we calm down the fear and clear enough space in our minds to learn the skills we need to execute the new thing? How might we not only dream big dreams, but do the really scary thing of building them in reality.

Here’s two ideas for how to repel your sharks:

  1. Set aside time to create a quick prototype or plan to make your dream a reality. In this phase don’t let perfectionism become your enemy. Just create a quick, cheap, simple version of your idea. Then test it and iterate it based on what you learned.
  2. Practice self-care. Engage in daily practices like meditation, exercise, healthy eating, etc. that help you reduce your stress levels. You’ll be able to open your mind to new possibilities and overcome the anxiety necessary to put you and your beloved idea out there.

Here’s another resource: Our upcoming Hackathon, Sept. 25 in Cleveland, Ohio! We are setting aside the time for you to work on your prototype, get coaching and group feedback, and even some self-care tips and practices that will reduce anxiety and fear.