“Everyday stress we encounter is more challenging in many ways than going out and doing a beautiful base jump”.
Heather Swan isn’t your typical grandmother.
Heather was a very normal, everyday woman with no experience in adventure or even camping until her late 30s.
A single mum of 2 with a distinguished corporate career, her life probably would have continued on that track until she met the man who is now her husband, Glenn.
Glenn was the keynote speaker at a corporate conference Heather attended; there to inspire all the “poor jaded, tired uninspired corporate types” with his base jumping exploits.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Despite being someone who was terrified of the idea of skydiving, Heather suggested to Glenn a project to test this theory that anyone could jump…
That's when I said to him that would be really interesting because that would put your theory to the ultimate test that anyone could do this. You could train me and together we could climb and fly off the highest cliff in the world. It would be really romantic. And he laughed. He thought I was pulling the best joke.
You can understand Glenn’s response when you learn that, when she made this suggestion, Heather hadn't sky dived at all and in fact had zero background in the outdoors or adventure.
Since taking up skydiving, and doing her first base jump at the age of 40, Heather has gone onto become a wingsuit pilot.
She has set multiple world records with Glenn — including for the world’s highest BASEjump off a 6,600m mountain in the Indian Himalayas -- and has flown her wingsuit over Sydney Harbour, the Grand Canyon and, most recently, a mountain in Antartica.
In this conversation, we discuss:
- the process she went through to learn to skydive, then base jump and finally fly a wingsuit,
- the importance of showing up, no matter how afraid you are,
- her strategies for dealing with fear and self-doubt,
- how she uses meditation and breath control to help her fly,
- why you need to deconstruct your fears, especially the irrational or emotional ones,
- why you should leave your baggage in the car (this is such a great visualisation!),
- the power of asking “how can I?” instead of leaping immediately to “I can’t”,
- her advice to adventurous mothers, including the importance of accepting their heightened fear response,
- how she recognised that her fear, self-doubt and inner critic follows the same pattern with every new project (and why this realisation is so powerful),
- the power of staying in the moment and focusing on the basics and fundamentals (so simple and obvious yet so easily overlooked).
Notes and resources: