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The ‘Adrenaline Junkie’ Method for Finding Your Differentiation Point.

Adrenaline Junkie big wave surfing

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Adrenaline Junkie big wave surfing


You can’t figure out how you got here.

You take a deep breath but it doesn’t seem to help. You still feel your lungs burning at the sensation of air flowing in. You try to calm yourself but that only makes matters worse.

Your brain starts moving 90 miles an hour and you begin thinking of the things that could go wrong, that most certainly will go wrong, and all the things you’ll never get to do.

You close your eyes because you’ve heard that helps. The only thing left for you to do is to take Nike’s advice and just do it.

Then a huge smile comes over your face as you realize your fate. You’re an adrenaline junkie and you’re about to move mountains.

I am an adrenaline junkie, hands down.  And in my book it’s nothing to be ashamed of. I crave that heart pounding rush of excitement and fear the way most Irish crave a pint of Guinness. Ps- I am Irish, so I’m allowed to say that. 🙂

It’s more than that though. I also crave the relief and sense of accomplishment and fulfillment that washes over me during the aftermath. It’s a complete package for me. If you have ever wondered what to get me for Christmas or my birthday, adrenaline wrapped up in a pretty little bow is the absolute best way to go.

Over the years I have discovered many ways to get my thrills. Paragliding, surfing, and my create-your-own polar bear swim are just a few. There are also some that you might be surprised to hear. Karaoke is my worst nightmare, even though I used to be a part of musical theater and was even the lead singer in a band at one point. Walking into a house party where I don’t know anyone but the host also scares the pants off me. I always feel so awkward and I wonder if the host views me like a little puppy dog as I follow them around everywhere!

There are also professional things that get me.

For me, it’s an adrenaline rush to speak in public. And yes, I do know that I can talk with a brick wall so this might surprise people. But it’s true. Standing up in front of a huge crowd to speak terrifies me. Again, ironic due to my musical theater background but that’s the way the cookie crumbles. Putting myself out there for critique is scary for me. Makes sense why I chose an “art” career where I welcome clients to tear apart my ideas right in front of me, right? For those that missed it, there was some heavy sarcasm in that last statement. However, just like with adrenaline rushes in my personal life, when I complete these activities I feel a sense of relief and accomplishment.



The adrenaline junkie method is quite simple. Purposely put yourself in new situations that cause at least a minor fit of anxiety. After doing so, take some time to reflect upon a current business challenge, such as discovering what makes you different from your competitors. Record any insights that arise.

My personal motto is “Feel the fear and do it anyway.” This motto, and the actions it inspires, has taken my business to new heights. And I suspect it will do the same for you.  I get inspired beyond belief. I feel alive. My senses tingle with each passing stimuli that before would drift over me unnoticed. At the height of the fear, surprisingly my life isn’t flashing before my eyes. My mind starts composing poetry and blog posts. I see vivid color schemes to be used in my next project. I think up spectacular new ways to pursue an old challenge. My mind’s inhibitions get whisked away and all that’s left is my creativity and boundless energy (due to the adrenaline).

It was using this method that I found my differentiation point. Once upon a time, I knew that I was a graphic designer, but I couldn’t grasp what made me different than the others. It was at this point that I accidentally discovered the adrenaline junkie method. I found myself in Bali, Indonesia. Now, this may not seem like the stereotype of adrenaline rushes to some, but that’s exactly my point. Adrenaline is produced anytime you take yourself outside of your comfort zone. Not only was this my first trip to Bali, to Indonesia, and to Asia, it was also the first time I had gone out of the country for an extended period of time while running my business full-time! I wasn’t quite sure of what the outcome would be which made me a bit anxious. What I found while I was there is that the adrenaline made me more creative and sparked personal growth (and by proxy, business growth) that I just simply wouldn’t have found otherwise. All of a sudden, I could tell you exactly what made my agency different than others. I knew exactly the type of people I wanted to join my team. I didn’t figure out all the answers of course, and I was fine with that. This just meant that there would be more adrenaline seeking in my future. But the answers that I did find during that trip propelled me to a solution to my problem – what was my differentiation point?



If you have a challenge in your business that you can’t seem to move past… try shark diving. If you can’t make a decision on the best course of action for you to take your business to millions… why not try skydiving? Or if extreme situations aren’t your cup of tea, how about giving a speech to your employees or writing a book to be critiqued by your customers. If you need more immediate gratification, how about trying to ride a bicycle with no hands downhill? Or perhaps going to lunch at a restaurant that you swore you would never even try because the thought of their specialty scared you to death. These are things you can do immediately. Today. And it will open your mind to new possibilities.

And here’s the funny thing about your mind… Whether it’s closed or open, it’s not subject specific. Meaning, if you climb outside your comfort zone in your vacation life, you will also climb outside your comfort zone in your professional life. Use this to your advantage. When you find yourself in a moment of fear, and you successfully navigate your way to relief, take the next few moments to think about a project that has been stalled for a bit. Utilize this fear and relief sequence to catapult your business to unexpected paths. This is where you find innovation. This is where you find differentiation. This is where you find your dreams.

Plus you’ll have a really great story to tell for the rest of your life.

Breathe. Live. Love. Create.



Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There are 6 comments .

Coach Comeback

Nice! I love your motto “Feel the fear and do it anyway”

Except for the fact the just the mere thought of shark diving made me a little queasy.. I love this strategy.

You should really push to get over that Karaoke thing. I think it will work wonders and with your background, your sure to get a standing ovation! =-)

~Fellow Adrenaline Junkie

Reply »

    Oh shark diving makes me super queasy too! Although, that’s exactly why I’ll make myself do it. Not just for the reasons listed in this post but also just because I want to prove to myself that I can! 🙂

    I’m working on the karaoke thing. I’ve done it once or twice but for some reason, I haven’t been able to even begin to feel comfortable with it!

    What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever pushed yourself through? Since you’re an adrenaline junkie too, I imagine you have lots of stories to tell!


    Reply »
      Coach Comeback —

      Oh wow! I have quite a few stories of things I tried and overcame. I also probably have just as many as things I have tried an failed at. But that is what keep me going.

      1. I am ( or i guess was) extremely afraid of heights so naturally I got a job working on telephone poles in the mountains. On the movies they look so safe but the reality is the only thing that is holding up my 200+lb frame is about a 2 inch spike attached to your boots where only about an 8th of an inch actually goes into the pole! Did that for 10 years! INTENSE!

      2. I opted to quit that job and leave the “safety” of a career and to add to it, I moved across states without much money or a plan! I guess this one should have been number 1 because that was one of the biggest life changers for me.

      3. I got over my stage freight and did some acting in a few commercials and also preformed on a stage show in Vegas (don’t even ask how that one came about). With only about an hour for preparation. As I am typing this I can still feel my heart pounding. lol

      and it just gets crazier from then on. I think everyone should live in Vegas for at least a year. What an experience!

      Reply »
        LindsayGattis —

        What great stories!!! Experiences is the fruit of life in my opinion and it sounds like you’re having a ton of great experiences!

        Reply »
Trevor Dimoff

An excellent post. I find that learning and growth happen when I am (slightly) uncomfortable, although a full on adrenaline rush isn’t always necessary for me!

I have spent much time figuring out life through the lens of a jazz saxophonist.

I discovered that becoming comfortable with my discomfort the way to conquer anything.

As to Karaoke, it might take more than a few tries to get catch your groove, keep at it!

Reply »
    LindsayGattis —

    Thanks for your comment Trevor and you bring up an excellent point. It doesn’t always have to be a full on adrenaline rush! Putting yourself, as you said, in slightly uncomfortable situations can work too. It’s about getting out of your comfort zone and using that as the catalyst for growth.

    Life through the lens of a jazz saxophonist sounds amazing! I can see a photography coffee table book project emerging 😉

    Reply »

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