Anthony Robbins vs BASE Jumpers
If you are a music fan then you are familiar with 'mash ups' where they start with one artist's concept and add another artist of a completely different genre, mixing them together to form a new and improved track.
DJ Danger Mouse did this with the Jay Z (Black Album) and mixed his tracks with The Beatles (White Album) to create The Grey Album creating an amazing mix of Hip Hop and Classic Beatles done surprisingly well. This is sometimes called 'Artist A.' VS 'Artist B.' or Jay Z. VS The Beatles.
I thought I would take the concepts of a highly influential person (Anthony Robbins) and mix in athletes that appear, to the outside observer, to be completely on the edge of death…BASE Jumpers.
Anthony Robbins is by far one of the most amazing and inspiring individuals on the planet. He has the ability to read people and take them from one level and catapult them to a level they never thought possible in a short period of time.
In 2006 he spoke at the TED convention. This 20 minute video can inspire you to do great things just by understanding his basic concepts.
I have been studying Anthony Robbins for years while pursuing my passion: testing the human mind and body limits with sports and endeavors like BASE Jumping. I was recently reminded of his six basic concepts of 'human needs' and I thought I would try and see if this model fit into the sport/mind of BASE Jumpers.
Anthony Robbins States that there are six:
4. Feel Significant
5. Connect and feel loved
6. Need to grow and contribute
If we mash up Anthony Robbins' concepts with the care free lifestyle of BASE jumpers it is surprisingly clear that BASE Jumpers fulfill their six human needs by being a part of the sport. See for yourself.
Certainty is number one the list because all humans crave it. We need to know how things will turn out. It takes the 'fear' aspect out of daily life, which most people want to avoid. Thus the attraction towards certainty. But if BASE Jumpers are so 'fear seeking', how can this one fit? Fear comes into the six steps a bit later. Instead BASE Jumpers are seeking a feeling that each and every one of them understands. A feeling that must be experienced time and time again.
When a BASE Jumper decides that he is going to jump that very day/night, the ball is put in motion and chemicals in their body start to take over. They are certain that they will get this feeling from start to finish. Chemicals flow from the decision time to make a jump, all the way through to landing and even through the discussions of the jump at the local pub. It is this certainty that keeps them coming back for more.
Like a drug user who craves the feeling of escape from their emotions to the athlete that tops the podium after an event. They know the feeling they desire, certain that they want to feel it time and time again and certain of where to get it. Simply put on a rig and walk to your local exit point and jump. (Not neccessarily that easy.)
Then you throw in number two from Anthony Robbins and you boggle your mind. While certainty is what we need most, Anthony Robbins asserts that our second greatest need is the antithesis of the first…uncertainty/variety. As stated in the Youtube clip, it is variety that keeps us from boredom. BASE Jumpers use this in two ways. First the variety from jump to jump, exit to exit, location to location. If its not a building at 3am then its the cliff at 3pm. BASE Jumpers log the different objects from which they have exited. For some, this reaches into the hundreds.
I certainly can attest to feeling much more scared on a new exit point then an old faithful jump in my local backyard. This leads me to the second aspect…which is uncertainty. Each and every time I or many BASE Jumpers get to an exit point there is a huge amount of uncertainty. Questions of 'gear fear'…is my rig packed correctly, have I done everything right to prepare for this, are the weather conditions good for this jump, did I lock my door at my house and if I did and I die on this jump…how will my family get in to retrieve my belongings? While the last one may or may not pass through a BASE Jumpers mind every-time, it certainly has happened on occasion.
Each new exit point for a BASE Jumper brings uncertainty and variety at the exact same time. The emotions and thought processes are amazingly powerful as you stand on the edge of any object. I have stood on top of an antenna 1000 feet up, with my feet on a six inch wide cross support in complete darkness. This, with nothing to hold onto for support, the highest point for 50 square miles and nothing but the beauty of the night lights, soft breeze and cool summer warmth at 1000 feet above the ground. That is simple variety from everyday life that you certainly cannot get from a chain box store or local amusement park ride.
But then the uncertainty is always in your mind that this could be your last jump, or last profound thought and your last activity in life. So the question for the Average Joe is…'why step off from the object in the first place…if you think, even if it is only a small thought, that you could die!' Simple…number 3 in the human needs list.
It's a challenge! There are probably around 3000 people who have BASE jumped (although that figure could be plus or minus as it is underground and unregulated). But of the billions that live or have lived on this planet that is a very small number in relation to the human population. With any endeavor that a human being has decided to embark upon it is never for the end result. The end result is always kept in mind, but the first hurdle to overcome is the challenge to start, the challenges they will have to handle along the way and the challenge to be satisfied once they reach their goal.
If almost every-time a BASE Jumper gets to the edge of an object and they contemplate death, their death, the very possibility that this could be the their last jump…then it takes every bit of strength, emotion, mental strength to overcome that challenge. It is this 'fear seeking' that I mentioned in the #1 paragraph that is the challenge to overcome. Simply put we seek the fear only to be challenged by it and the desire to overcome this great challenge that the Average Joe would back down from. This overcoming of a challenge that was set forth that day, that week or for some first time jumpers that life was indeed a great thing to face and overcome!
With variety of locations, people and exit points the challenge in us, as BASE Jumpers, is to continue to search and experience this challenge as much as possible. I personally find that the BASE Jumping challenges I find in the sport along with emotions and feelings transfer to all aspects of life. The same challenges, emotions and mental focus that I feel before each and every jump are the same challenges, emotions and mental focus that I might feel before a large business transaction. It is the ability to recognize these feelings as they are happening and know that you can succeed each and every-time whether it is a BASE Jump or a signature at the bottom of a large contract worth millions.
Anthony Robbins states that the ability to feel significance is a major one and I have to agree. Every one of us searches for the right thing that gives us that significant feeling within ourselves and to others. While I can only speak for myself I do know that being a BASE Jumper and one of only 3000 or so really made me feel significant.
Often times people would see video, pictures or other media material that would make them ask me about BASE Jumping. Being able to step off of an object with merely a parachute on your back and a very good chance of injury or death certainly brings you to a 10 out of a scale of 1-10 in significance real fast. Just by making a single BASE Jump you have dropped into a whole new world where very few understand. I am guessing that many others within the sport, while they may not admit it,…deep down inside this is true to them.
It's important to state that each of the six human needs is not weighed equally. They are not equally balanced on the scale of life. For different people there are different amounts of energy put towards one or more of the needs than others. We all need each and every one of them, but not all equally at the same time. If you are heavily weighted towards one or two over all the others, then that is what will drive you in one direction life. For another person it moves them in a completely opposite direction by their own weighted needs.
Connect and feel loved
The ability to feel connected and loved is by far one of my favorites when you mash the two together. First is the connection you feel in this sport. This connection can be on so many levels. Mentally with other people, emotionally with friends and spiritually with yourself. You can even feel connected to outside energy such as the wind, the earth, natural aspects of your surroundings and some will tell you even God, but that is usually when things go wrong.
BASE Jumpers are an underground community where each and every one of them considers themselves family. If I have a rig and I am visiting another city…I simple post my intentions on a forum board and soon enough private messages will come my way about local sites and the possibility to meet new people that also enjoy BASE Jumping. It is like the back door down the dark alley that you have to knock on, but sure enough you always know the password and you are always welcomed into the community worldwide.
I have made some of my closest friends through their support and by far have connected on deeper levels with my best friends than any other person I have met. Many sports, jobs, lifestyles offer this, but I will say that flying your body off of a 3000 foot cliff…at speeds up to 120mph…next to your best friend or new acquaintances or your future wife is like no other experience. It is as close to nature that you can get while soaring amongst the birds and spiritual beings that surround us on whatever level.
Need to grow and contribute
Lastly is the need to grow and contribute. I have read numerous times from many sources that the #1 reason we are here on this earth is to grow as a human being and contribute to anything outside of ourselves as individuals. No matter what path you take in life this is a guiding principle in making yourself feel amazing on a day to day basis.
Take this website for example. I feel that when I am spending time to write, explain and share my thoughts that I am contributing to a better society along with growing inside and out. I am learning new systems and learning more about myself as I write what is in my head and on my mind. Thinking about what to write next makes me look at the world in a different way. Anything I see, do, experience, etc is a potential topic to be written about and shared.
In the BASE community things run full circle. We often start off in the sport being mentored by one jumper who feels that he can teach you safely. Finding a mentor is not always easy because it requires someone who is willing to take on the risk of bringing in someone else to the sport. I am deeply grateful to my mentor Damian D. as he taught me well and guided me along my path.
There have been other organized companies that are now teaching BASE Jumping, but these men and women have been in the sport for a long time and thus the need to contribute is big in their lives. Jimmy P., Marta E, and Tom A. are some of the few that are really keeping new jumpers safe and adding lots of value to the community itself.
Other jumpers have taken to informing the newbies through website writings like Nick D. He has been around to see almost the entire evolution of the sport from start to finish. Ironically, he also holds the website for 'The List' that documents over 100 fatalities that have happened in the sport over the years. So its clear that as you grow in any community the desire to give back is always there because it is in our DNA to do just that.
It was a pleasant surprise to see how it all fits together by taking Anthony Robbins' material and mashing it up with something I feel is apart of my personal being. I guess its very true that no matter what you do in life, or who you are you are, always following those simple six needs of every human being. Try it for yourself and see where you are at. I am sure it will give you a better insight to who you are.
If you desire to be something else then look hard at each of the six needs and figure out what is missing and put energy and focus into that. A recent coaching client of mine went through the six steps and we found out that she was missing number four….feeling significant. After this realization we focused in on it and were able to determine that if she put some energy there, with the right questions being asked, that she would find what she was looking for.
The answers are all inside of us…only some of us choose to go searching and those that do always find what they are looking for. Sometimes that means standing on top of a 1000 foot antenna in the middle of the night with nothing to hold onto, but the whole world to look at.