“Channel Your Fear Into Positive Energy” is a suggestion I have heard and attempted to apply for decades. You have that exciting tension that is outside of the normal sensation, and you have to break through some kind of barrier. I remember standing on the edge of a 20-foot-high diving board for half an hour when I was not yet a teen. I came down the steps…although I eventually climbed back up and jumped.

I remember standing in the open door of a military plane for five minutes as we approached the drop zone. What am I doing here, I wondered? Was I going to die in a few minutes? Then the green light came on, and the jumpmaster punched me in the butt and out into the air. I remember the next day in the plane, when a fellow jumper refused to go, after having a dream the night before that his mother was crying over his coffin. We all deal with fears somehow and to varying degrees. Some people can’t even watch others in risky or dangerous or death-defying situations. What are your thresholds?

Before yesterday, Felix Baumgartner said he was nervous about his leap from the stratosphere. But the 43-year-old daredevil—who has jumped from some of the world’s tallest buildings and soared across the English Channel in freefall using a carbon wing—regards a tinge of fear as a good thing.

“Having been involved in extreme endeavors for so long, I’ve learned to use my fear to my advantage,” Baumgartner said. “Fear has become a friend of mine. It’s what prevents me from stepping too far over the line.”

And from another article: A number of things could go wrong: his blood could boil, he could go into an uncontrolled spin and be knocked unconscious, he could smash into the ground.

Ironically, the one thing that the Austrian extremes-man feared the most was the full body gear that will ultimately protect him from all these terrible possibilities.

The New York Times’ John Tierny writes: Mr. Baumgartner, a former Austrian paratrooper who became known as Fearless Felix by leaping off buildings, landmarks and once into a 600-foot cave, said that this was his toughest challenge, because of the complexity involved and because of an unexpected fear he had to overcome: claustrophobia. During five years of training, he started suffering panic attacks when he had to spend hours locked inside the stiff pressurized suit and helmet necessary for survival at the edge of space

Baumgartner conquered his fear through therapy and guidance from 84-year-old Joseph Kittinger, a former U.S. Air Force pilot who jumped from 19.5 miles in 1960. Until Baumgartner’s successful jump is completed, Kittinger still holds the current world record for highest altitude parachute jump.