“Why do I always seem to get myself into these situations”, is what I say to myself every single time that I try something new or challenging. Last Monday I did a “fire board break” demonstration. What is a fire break? Essentially you take pine boards light them on fire then break them using some type of karate strike. Click here to watch the demonstration. The day before the demonstration I lit some boards on fire to access the burn rate of the wood and accelerant(charcoal lighter fluid). During the controlled test burn the wood would not catch on fire. The lighter fluid would pool on the wood, burn for a few seconds then go out. This led me to believe that I’d have to time the break perfectly. I’d need to break the wood just before the accelerant burned itself out but after it was still pooled on the surface of the wood. The live break went perfectly and because it went perfectly it looks easy.
As I stood in front of the spectators I was quite afraid. I was not afraid of setting myself on fire (a distinct possibility) rather I was afraid of failing and embarrassing myself in front of a group of people. Any number of things could have gone wrong with the break including; the burning accelerant splashing onto my arm, torso or face, I could miss the stack of wood and drive my hand straight into the top of the cement block that supported the wood, the wood not catching on fire (you can’t do a fire break without fire), I could miscalculate the physics of the strike and not break all of the burning boards or over compensate and drive my hand through the wood straight into the ground. This is the day of instant YouTube video. There was a distinct possibility that one of the spectators could have shot video of me with their phone as I dance around in a circle with my hair on fire…as I screamed “just don’t sit their, pour some water on my head!”. Can you imagine that video all over Facebook and YouTube?
My new favorite quote is “There is no plan B, failure is not an option”. That was the attitude I had as I set the boards on fire. Ironically I had some difficulty lighting the accelerant. Once the wood did catch on fire it began to burn slowly. If you watch the video you can see me walk out of frame. I was going to get some more lighter fluid to increase the burn rate. As I turned back towards the stack I could see that the wood was engulfed in flame! I had not anticipated the entire stack catching on fire and burning aggressively. What was I to do…not go through with the break? “There is no plan B, failure is not an option”. I cleared my mind, focused and did the break. Fate was smiling on me that day and things went well. I did not break my hand or set myself on fire!
Why was this break important to me? The challenge was not doing the break. The challenge was overcoming fear, trepidation and insecurity. Playing it safe feels good, that is why 90% of most people do it. Leaving your comfort well that’s a whole other paint job indeed.