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Keeping a clear focus on the future

Many times when we are gripped by fear it can be one of two mental challenges that we can learn to overcome.
The Fear is completely imaginary.
In this situation there may be no factual evidence that there is a problem that we should be afraid of yet we react physically as if there is. Our mind has complete control over our body. It starts producing excess adrenaline, increases our heart rate, makes us more vigilant. In reality, the sound of a mouse rustling through the bushes can create the reaction.
The symptoms of a fight or flight type of fear may have arisen because we believe we “may”, “possibly”, “perhaps” be in bear country! 
We never saw a bear, heard a bear or even know if a bear is in the area, but our body has just produced all of the chemicals and psychological responses it would if we had witnessed an aggressive bear.
I know that is an extreme analogy but this happens every day in our life. We freeze in moments that are driven by a mental picture of a perceived problem not a real problem.
We are able to overcome these types of fear by practicing taking control of our mind. It is no different to a person's fear of flying. The fear comes from the fact that you may crash when you fly in an aircraft. Statistically however, you are five times more likely to die in a bus or a train crash or seven times more likely to die in a car crash. The same person that fears flying, likely has a driving license and drives to and from work every day making the fear irrational. Programming our mind to understand that facts are more important than imagination goes a long way towards helping you cope with fear.
We make the problem larger than it really is!
In my keynote presentations I talk about this from the perspective of focusing on the future. If we hold a pen up two feet in front of our eyes and focus on the pen, it seems pretty large in context with our view. If we now focus on the background the pen almost disappears. The same is true with our challenges. A focus on the future allows us to keep moving forward while exerting pressure on the problem that confounded us initially.
I have used this technique many time in my adventures with great success.
If you want to find out more about some of the things that have gone wrong on my adventures, you can read my book which was inspired by this column. 
The Accidental Journey - Living on the Edge is free on Amazon for the next two days. Simply log in to Amazon, search for mark jennings-bates and get yourself a free copy.
Mark is a Keynote Speaker, Trainer and Adventurer. To enquire about a speaking engagement or to sign up for one of his free courses, visit


Repetition can cure fear

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where the feeling of fear completely took over your thought process?
Perhaps you were just buckling up your seat belt on an aircraft. Maybe it was the last time you sat down to write an exam. It is possible that even the process of starting a new job can be intimidating enough to terrify us.
If that is you, then I want to share the next few columns with you, talking about how I overcame those type of fears.
There are many techniques which can assist when it comes to curing a fear of an activity or a situation, but I believe one of the most effective is to simply keep going back to the same situation and learn to understand the fear!
Many years ago as a young 12-year-old, I was led by a teacher, Howie Trillo, on a small rock climb. It was quite simple, nothing challenging but I remember being a little nervous. Curiously enough, once I was at the top of the climb, myself and my other school friends could not stop talking about how exciting it was. All the way home to our parents, we talked endlessly about how good we all were! Then, we bombarded our parents with tales of derring do.
Several years after that first adventure, I was a confident rock climber leading routes and dragging my girlfriend at the time, now my wife Jackie, reluctantly up quarry walls and classic Welsh routes.
The process of going back, time and again, to the rock, despite my fears led to a familiarization which allowed me to overcome fear. I became accustomed to seeing lots of air beneath my feet, while I was perched a few hundred feet up a rock face. I relished the views were a privilege few people could enjoy. I desired the freedom rock climbing gave me as a young boy.
Today, the lesson stays with me. Despite the initial fear of doing something for the first time, I make sure I go back a few more times to develop a habit of understanding the feeling.
As you study fear it can be very irrational. The feeling is real enough but the reactions caused by the fear are completely nonsensical. Take for instance someone who is being lowered down a rock face for the first time. The person is tied into the rope onto a harness around their waist. Yet in a state of panic they often have a grip of death on the rope twelve inches above their waist! As someone is climbing second on a rope, out of fear they may hold onto a piece of protection the lead climber placed in the rock. With both hand they will let go of the secure rock face and hold onto the man made and possibly insecure protection, the piece that may fail in the system!
I remember as a rafting guide in Alberta, I had a raft of clients on the Red Deer River. It was spring and the water was flowing very strong. On one ledge, a recirculating wave trapped us, tipped the raft and out went my clients. Now, to give you a picture, as a guide on a paddle raft, I would sit at the back and look at the backs of my clients as they also faced forward and I could control their paddle strokes.
In this instance as I picked the clients out of the water, one by one, they all sat and faced me! It was completely wrong. Yet, they had no clue. In their panic, they simply followed the first person who sat down facing the wrong direction. It took a very loud command from me to turn around and face the right direction before they even realized their mistake. Fear had taken control of their actions.
Nowadays, with my adventures and expeditions, I make sure to think about what I may encounter which I could be fearful of. I study it, practice it if necessary and keep revisiting it until fear fades and control of my fear takes over.
Repetitive visits to the edge of my comfort zone will tame the feeling of fear. A sense of competency will start to replace the question in my mind of whether I am good enough to get the job done.
Along the way, I have had some pretty spectacular accidents, which I will share in my next book which will be published in the fall, Bruised Angels.
So next time you try something new and feel fearful, remember to go back to the place and revisit the feeling. Go back a few more times and study the activity a little more. When you have to make a sales phone call and you are afraid of what may happen, think of the worst possible outcome. It is usually someone saying “no”. Yet we can be paralyzed by the thought. 
If you want to improve your performance in a specific area of your life, learning to control fear is likely going to be a huge advantage you can gain in the next few months. It is simply a process.
Mark is a Keynote Speaker, Trainer and Adventurer. To enquire about a speaking engagement or to sign up for one of his free courses, visit 

Crowd Funding models need our contacts?

I hear much talk about Crowd Funding models. Indigogo, Kickstarter and the likes have started to allow entrepreneurs and philanthropists’ dreams to come true.
But how well do they work?
While many blogs point to the fact that it is the “fund raising” model of the future, an equal number talk about frustration and disappointment from entrepreneurs as their pitch gets no attention.
Personally, I get a little frustrated with the model, that is a “modern day” business concept that seems to be repeated in many industry sectors. It essentially allows an entrepreneur to insert themselves in the middle of a transaction that otherwise would have occurred anyway in most instances.
Take for example our charity, Rally4Life. We have used various fund raising portals. They look very cool, they present an exciting image of the fundraising project to the public. Looking at the surface, they are cool.
When you peel the layers off however, they are not so cool. In 95% of instances, with our experience, the broker has nothing to offer. They do have cool looking graphics on their website. So we load up our project and then we wait. The flood of donations never arrives. After a while, we receive the customary email - “Are you marketing your fund raising project to your friends, family and contacts?” Whether you are crowd funding for a new business, movie production or charity, the same email arrives.
So who is helping who here?
It strikes me that if I upload my project and then introduce a few thousand new contacts to the website, should I not be getting commission? Instead, I pay commission to the crowd source funding site that collects donations from my friends and family that I introduced them to. Then, those same friends and family members go back to the site because they are in their database and start donating to other exciting and interesting projects.
It is very clever, I will give them that.
At the end of the day, there are more innovative ways to raise money and market your project IMHO. Commissions from these website hover around 5% to 10% which means that at the end of the day, I am better off building myself a free WEEBLY website or similar, adding a funky looking landing page and taking donations through PayPal for lower transaction fee’s. At least I am in control of my own database.
So where is the upside?
There are positive stories, I have heard of them. However, I have never met anyone who has been successful through crowd funding. In fact, I have only met people who have failed to meet their objective.
What has worked is high budget, celeb endorsed models, that frankly could have been financed in other ways. These successes take away from the original intent of founders engines such as Kickstarter.
So what lies ahead? With some of the larger crowd funding sites having raised as much as $500 million in 2013, you can rest assured that the regulators will want in.
To date, they have only been able to talk about how they can get involved. I would be waiting for legislation to arrive very soon. As a crowd source funder, how do you separate the scam from the opportunity? It is very difficult. It is like going to the penny slots at the casino. You keep walking around the machines and putting a few coins in each machine to see if you can hit the jackpot.
It begs the question, what is the profile of the crowd funding investor? 
My guess is that the investors on these sites, are either financially independent and would like to anonymously connect with young entrepreneurs who have some very good ideas, or they are kind hearted individuals who enjoy helping others and focus less on fiscal returns.


One person can make a difference

When my wife and I started our charity several years ago quite a few people had deep conversations with us about whether we could make a difference.
Surely the lack of safe water in the world was such a massive challenge that two people with a vision would never make much of an impact.
Well, one person with a vision can change the world. It has happened many times before us. We were two dummies that figured we could be a catalyst for a small amount of change. 
The cool thing is that because of that decision, many people are now choosing to make a difference also. We knew we needed help. Our vision was to reduce poverty in the world by providing safe water, sustenance, education, shelter and food to families around the world. Have we achieved that goal? Not yet.
One of the questions we were asked was, “Could we really provide safe water to all the people who needed it?" The assumption was that if we couldn’t why would we start. My wife answered that question very eloquently. She indicated that she may not have a vision big enough to eradicate the global problem. She even felt that if she picked one country and focused on that she probably couldn’t do it. Frankly, she was even shy about committing to solving the problem in a region in a country. She did feel though that she could impact a community. 
Her default answer then became, “I know I can make a difference in the person’s life that we give safe water to and that matters to me.” You see, we can simply turn a blind eye to the issues the world is struggling with or we can decide that on our own - we can make a difference. 
So many people have stepped up to the plate to help us, it is humbling.
In a few days time, on March 22nd, it is the UN World Water Day. As a Charity, we can be proud that we have made a small difference. As an individual, I can re-commit to making a larger difference.
One young lady who is making a big difference in the world is Steph Jeavons. In a few day’s time, she leaves the UK to ride a “solo round the world” motorbike trip. A very brave endeavour. Steph has inspired many people by her commitment to taking a journey through sometimes dangerous countries so that she can make a difference. 
Because of Steph, we wake up each morning to see new donations from her global supporters, people who are inspired to live vicariously through her trip. 
Follow her on her travels at her blog site:
In the meantime, if you are inspired to see what our charity, Rally4Life is doing, check out the video for World Water Day.

Read more The Accidental Journey articles


About the author...

For the past twenty years Mark has been involved in real estate development and consulting and is currently a REALTOR with Realty Executives in Kelowna.

His column, brings a unique perspective on what may be important to us in the future as we come to grips with fast paced change in a world that few people barely recognize.

His influences come from the various travels he undertakes as an Adventurer, Philanthropist and Keynote Speaker. More information can be found on Mark at his website



The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.

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