No Flinching

At some point, you do it. You decide to dive into the deeply risky in order to produce something meaningful. The bet-your-reputation project. The showcase speech. The book that challenges conventional wisdom. It’s exciting, scary and anything but safe.

Want to increase your shot at success?

Try learning from stunt artists—those incredibly nimble physical actors who leap from moving motorcycles, explode into flames and dodge speeding missiles.

Watching stunts being filmed for a commercial spot last week was a lesson in cool savvy. While you could almost hear her heart beating, once the cameras started rolling the stuntwoman never flinched. Not once in 6 takes.

The regular actors—when faced with a giant, dangerous prop coming toward them at 30 miles an hour—weren’t as up to the task. Instead of radiating confidence, their faces gave a glimpse of what was coming. Fear. Anxiety. Doubt.

Could it be that you are sending “flinch” signals to your audience and diluting your impact?

Take a page from the stunt professionals’ book:

Do your homework. The safest way to take big risks is to control the things you can. Come prepared—physically, intellectually, emotionally—for what is to come.

Practice. Yes, practice. I don’t care how many times you’ve relied on winging it, this is the time for practice. To try alternatives. To up your game.

Work with a team you trust. Creating successful outcomes requires the right people. Both to give helpful input and to hold the net when you jump. Trust your gut and don’t align with those who can’t (or won’t) pull their weight.

And then? Just let go. No hand wringing. No whining. No flinching.


  • Great points. On point. Preparation makes you ready; it helps you exude confidence.

  • Well said. One of my favorite advantages of “team” – surrounding yourself with people who are willing to tell you the truth whether you want to hear it or not.

  • I remember as a young man preparing a talk being told once you are on stage, you don’t need to say what you’ve written exactly as it was written. The audience doesn’t have your script in their hands they don’t know what’s in your script. Just keep going as if you planned to say it that way.

    Preparation, Practice, and a team are all important for success. Tim Allen once said: All men like to think they can do it alone, but a real man knows there’s no substitute for support, encouragement or a pit crew.

  • Corey, Mike and Stephen,
    Confidence, solid team (love the notion of a pit crew), and being in the moment–excellent additions to this topic. Thank you!

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