When John Glenn became the first to orbit the Earth, he spent the first day with his heart rate under 100bpm.
Think about that.
That’s the same as someone out for a brisk walk.
How would you do?
Sat in a tiny capsule, hurtling around the planet, trusting your life to a room full of science geeks safely back on Earth.
Surrounded by technology that could fail.
Causing you to die in one of the many ways that nightmares are made of.
Your heart rate may already be above 100, just at the thought.
How did he do it?
NASA train astronauts in one skill above all others.
How not to panic.
They are drilled in every millisecond of the launch process, from breakfast, through preparation and launch.
They are tested on what to do when things go wrong at every stage. And all of the time their heart rate is monitored.
And yet in business we only train for the sunny days.
That lovely process on the wall works great at the start of a project when there’s lots of time and money.
But doesn’t get a second glance when things go wrong.
The US Navy Seals say “Under pressure, people don’t rise to the occasion, they drop to the level of training.”
Which explains why some people keep cool heads and others lose their completely. And you never know who will go which way until they do.
Then it comes down to the experience and resilience of the team to keep things stable. If that’s not enough then it’s time to train how not to panic.
What’s your heart rate right now?