There's not a lot of things I'm afraid of, but flying is probably second on my list of fears. I have always been afraid to fly, but I’m not really sure what I was scared of more – being hijacked in the air, or falling from the sky.
Either way, I have had a long-standing fear of flying. With the exception of a flight I had when I was about 4 years old, my next flight didn't happen until I was 31.
Aerophobia is actually a real thing… I guess they have a term for everything. It affects over 25% of people everywhere and – given that there are over 7 billion people in the world – that means there are 1.75 billion other people who are scared of flying!
As a child, my aunt took me to Atlanta – where we flew on on the pond-jumper from Dothan to ATL. The only thing I remember, is holding that puke bag the whole time. In fact, for the first two years I flew as an adult, I immediately looked to see if my seat had one of those bags.
In March 2005, I thought working in the private-sector would give me the paycheck I needed… to stop living paycheck to paycheck. The salary was quite a bump in this cop's pay – so I went over to the dark side, took the job and started traveling the country as a defense investigator.
To go along with my new job, I bought a new truck that had only 227 miles on it. I drove my new truck 745 miles in a day from Dothan to Dallas Texas, just so I wouldn't have to fly, for a 2-week training at my new employer's headquarters.
My avoidance of flying would come to an end, however, in August of that same year, when I had short notice to be in Dallas and had no other choice but to take my first flight as an adult.
This was a moot point, though, because Hurricane Katrina happened and after a day layover in Atlanta, I flew on to Dallas.
Yep, I was in the air when Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. After my “Katrina Flight”, I still intentionally avoided flying.
I once drove from Dothan to Oklahoma City, over to Dallas then back down to Atlanta, to Tampa and back home to Dothan – about 2,715 miles – in a week.
My time to fly would once again come in December of 2005 – this time, to Colorado.I was in the Atlanta airport, waiting to catch my plane, and a story was on the news about the crash of Southwest Airlines Flight 1248 that had just happened, where the airplane slid off the runway in Chicago while landing in a snowstorm, busted through a barrier (I'm guessing one that was made to stop a plane?) and crashed onto a street, killing a six-year-old child. I almost bailed on the flight, but I suffered through it and made it to my destination in one piece.
When I arrived in Denver, I rented my car and made it to the hotel about 1am. Once I checked in, I went to the room and turned the TV on. I dont remember the name of the movie that was on almost 9 years ago – but I definitely remember that it was about a commercial airline that was shot down by the U.S. Military.
Holy crap! There are two signs that say I should not be flying!
I almost drove my rental car back home, instead of getting on my return plane trip. After all, it was only 859 miles. I could do that in my sleep. But, I didnt.
I sucked it up, once again, and made the flight back home.
In March 2006, I quit my private-sector job to go back to being a cop. Exactly one-year to the day that I originally left, my ‘new' truck that I got with 227 miles… had 98,000 miles on it.
In 2008, I returned again to my old defense investigator gig, with another raise. I flew a few more times. I was getting better at this flying, but I still looked for the puke bag when I boarded the plane.
I left for good at the end of 2009 and returned to my police job.
Why Can't I Just Drive to Afghanistan?
I played with the idea of going to Afghanistan to make the big bucks for a few years. The first time was in 2006. I chickened out, partly because I had a new girlfriend, but mainly because I would have to fly; and not some short 3 hour flight either. This was the big leagues of flying. 15 hours… In. The. Air.
The opportunity came up again in 2009 and I took it.
Working bomb dogs in southern Afghanistan, I had several domestic flights to catch before I jumped to the big one. The first flight wasn't that bad – from Dothan to Atlanta, then to San Antonio – where I lived for a month training the dog I would take to Kandahar.
The second wasn't real bad either – from San Antonio back to Atlanta, where we had to in-process at Ft. Benning. The 3rd time – it was starting to sink in… this flight, from Atlanta to Houston, was my final domestic flight before catching an Emirates flight to go 8,000 miles. In. The. Air.
I have to say – if you're flying overseas for the first time – Emirates is the way to go. Their service was excellent and I almost forgot I was 35,000 feet in the air… Except for when the turbulence hit. We dropped for what seemed like 100 feet each time, causing my food tray to leave the tray table.
What freaked me out the most, however, was the elderly African woman sitting directly behind me praying in tongue. I just knew, if we weren't already, that lady was gonna make us fall all the way to the ground.
Over the years, I have accumulated lots of miles. I'm loyal to Delta – only flying them when I can, but some places they don't have service. Dubai to Bangkok is just one example.
On my way back to Dubai from my last Thailand trip – Emirates upgraded me to business class.
I had only flown with them four times before: my first trip to Afghanistan, once round-trip to Manila, and then again when I went to Thailand two months before this flight. So, it was a shock to be given the upgrade with more room, reclining seats and a gift bag with Bulgari Cologne and some other stuff.
But, this post isn't really about my fear of flying.
The 1,100+ words above, was just a segue to my number one fear – fear of failure. I could never drop the safety net of a day job, because I was scared to fail at whatever business I was going to.
Even when my international security firm found success in numerous parts of the world – there was always a little voice in my head, telling me that it was going to crash and burn.
Well, it never crashed. And it certainly never burned.
Through much trial and error, quite a few heartaches and definitely more opportunities passed up than any one person should be allowed; I can say without a doubt, that fear of failure – is as close to losing as you can get. You will never fail at something you never do, and you will never be successful at something you never try.
As you can probably imagine, I had no choice but to get over and conquer my fear of flying. If I hadn't taken that initial leap (finally) and hopped on over to Afghanistan – most of the doors that have opened up for me would still be closed today.
Much is the same about my fear of failing.
That's essentially what Combat Mindset is – it's my way of giving that particular phobia the finger. I decided the time for fear is over in all parts of my life – except for snakes, they can all fucking die.
I decided it was time to cut the safety net and open the gym, help others achieve the success they want, while realizing my own at the same time.
I've learned that it's not the number of people in an area that matter… it's the number of people that want what I have to offer that matters the most.
That's what eventually led me to change my plans of opening in West Hollywood, to opening up back home in Dothan Alabama.
I know what I can do. I know what needs to be done.
But… is there enough interest?
Is there enough of a member-base within the 245,000 Dothan, Enterprise and Ozark combined area to give me what we need to survive? What about within the 145,000 Dothan Metro area? And, bringing it in even more… what about within the 65,000 people of Dothan?
Only time will tell.
Even though our initial market research shows me that there is a defining need for my studio, I honestly don't know for sure. I will never know, until I try.
Do you have any more tips that might be helpful? If you liked this article, feel free to share it on social media so someone you know might benefit from it.
What You Can Do
The founder of Combat Mindset, Michael Saad, is a straight-forward and easy to follow Results Coach that helps athletes, fighters and tactical operators get mentally and physically stronger.