Leading Through FEAR

We were divided into three groups: Chicken Littles, the Middle of the pack, and the Extremes.

Where do you think most people self-selected?

Exactly – The Middle.

What group would you have selected just by title alone, without knowing what we were doing?

As we hit the course our mentor reminded us, ‘there is no winning or loosing on the course. There is not even a team competition. This is about stretching yourself and becoming aware how YOU handle challenges, face YOUR fears, and process failures.’

We were first up on the Power Pole, or Pucker Pole as some called this 35 ft Leap of Faith.

‘To fight fear, act. To increase fear – wait, put off postpone.’

David Joseph Schwartz

Already harnessed up I could sense I was getting anxious. I had done it before so I was confident I could do it again. Wait that was nine years ago and this body isn’t what it used to be. Then mind kicked into overdrive. ‘You can do this, it’s like riding a bike.’

It felt like seconds as I sped up the pole. I recalled my past two successes . Breath, FOCUS, look up and out. HOLD THE IMAGE in the distance.

Wait, where does my foot go?  This pole is really skinny. As I looked down I realized that was a bad move. The pole really started to sway back and forth. Crap, NO bueno, May day May day, I don’t like this one bit.

I recalled that feeling from my past success as well. I immediately looked up, started to take slow deep breaths and tell myself to RELAX, FOCUS, CENTER, BREATH. Yeah, the swaying stopped! That’s the missing piece, find my center to stay balanced.

Center … Center   I’m up !!! The pole is wiggling again and I’m standing. VICTORY !!!

On the ground I had decided that just standing was victory, I recalled from past experience very few taller people reach the trapeze and I was technically too short to expect to catch the trapeze.

As I swayed back and forth I am thinking I did it. I reached my goal, to stand on the pole. It never phased me that I wasn’t done yet. I was to take a Leap of Faith – go for the trapeze.

Out of reflex, I REACHED to GRAB anything to stabilize myself instead of recalling what worked a few seconds ago: FOCUS, CENTER, BREATH

There was only one thing to grab – my harness line. Oops bad idea, I pulled myself off the pole. With one hand hanging on and one reaching out I heard. Oh so close.

Next stop – the zip lines. I love ZIP lines. My husband and I had done several through trees, across creek beds and gorges in Jamaica. What a thrill, no fear as I zipped through the air, major rush to jump off the tiny platform. There is something about the tiny space to stand on high up in the air. Zipping high up is awesome, standing still – No thank you.

Last stop – TEC Course suspended 55 ft in the air, branded as ‘the stupid thing’ by the entire middle group. Strange thing I learned from these high wires and floating boards with obstacles to navigate around, this was my favorite. I had space to work with. I was free to pick my path, I had intermediate platforms to stabilize on before charting my next strategy and there were several of us on it at once to observe and learn from.

We had saved the best for last and I ran through it almost easier than walking down the street.  Wait, that was too fast, oh well, I’m spent, time to celebrate and share our lessons.

10 Lessons I Learned  Leading Through F.E.A.R.

  1. I often move too fast and then miss the unrecoverable best of the moment.
  2. I don’t like to be confined to tiny spaces. It doesn’t matter if I am 55’ in the air or flat on the ground.
  3. I thrive with challenges, obstacles, open space, freedom of choice, and continual movement.
  4. What I recall from past successes may not be the complete picture.
  5. How I spend the time on the ground determines how successful I am in the air.
  6. What got me here, won’t get me there but it can keep me moving.
  7. The meaning I attached to a failure can either serve me or hinder me. It’s my choice.
  8. Failure is a matter of perspective.  Those that never tried see our success in trying to do what they weren’t willing to do.
  9. If I’m not careful I stop inches from the goal, get distracted or set a shorter goal without taking a leap of faith.
  10. Not everyone has the same goals. We choose them based on what we think we can do versus REALLY WANT to celebrate.

I was my best when I:

  • Found my platform before moving
  • Expanded my space to work in and towards
  • Acknowledged my strengths and let go
  • Released 100% of my energy and passion

How do you handle challenges, failures, and lead through your fears?

What thinking has best served you?

‘One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises,

is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do.’ Henry Ford