Fear? Zip it.

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Conquering Fear | Mental Toughness | Vital Leadership

I had a lesson in fear the other day. And it was not at all the lesson I would have expected.

While I would never classify myself as a daredevil, I’m not a chicken either (such as I’ll take the 200-foot drop on Kansas City’s biggest roller coaster without much of a glitch, but I WON’T do it from the front car!).

Anyway, back to my story. I had a blip of fear the other day for something that I considered a bit unjustified. As I talked with myself about the fear I was feeling, I begin to chalk it up to age. I am past the mid-century mark now and maybe things change in the department of courage by this age, right? But I wasn’t feeling so good about that rationalization at all, so I was really trying to process what was happening.

climbingI was staring at a 30-foot climb up a telephone-type pole to a platform from which I could do a 600-yard zip-line through the woods while on our family vacation in Colorado. I had done something similar before so why was THIS so scary? That other time WAS 15 years ago, and the rationalizations poured into my thoughts in buckets.

I decided I didn’t NEED to go.

I had already checked this off my bucket list.

Others in the group needed to go first/had never gone before/deserved it more then me………

You get the point.

I decided I had no need to go there again, (…except that it was fun last time, so why was I so hesitant????)

As I busily “mothered” my family members, who were confidently tackling the challenge with no hint of caution, I was deeply pondering this question and trying to dodge questions as to why I wasn’t currently wearing a climbing harness.

I said that I wasn’t sure if I would have TIME to go (because mothers never put themselves in line first), but, deep down, I also wasn’t sure I WANTED to go.

The weirdest part was that, as I dissected my hesitation, it really was in the climb and not the fall. I’m a pretty fit individual, who works out daily and doesn’t usually shy away from anything physical, but I actually felt myself questioning my ability to do the initial 30-foot climb. The zip-line itself, eh, that looked pretty safe (and fun). It was the ‘up’ part….that dreaded pole climb, OR the shaky, unstable ladder that was offered as another “up” option.

Being a mental toughness coach, I began (between shooting video of each family member’s ‘zip’) to analyze my hesitation. What WAS I afraid of…really? The climb? The height? The fall? Failure? Woah…..

If so, what was I REALLY AFRAID OF? Was my fear truly justified….or, rather, was I fearing something misplaced and silly or fabricated?

My list of potential outcomes (my fears) began forming in my mind:

1. I would freeze halfway up the pole, because heights have never been fun to me
2. I would slip during the pole climb…
3. I would struggle during the climb because of some combination of lack of fitness and lack of flexibility (I didn’t feel much like a monkey that day)

So I did what any good mother would do: I cheered everyone else on, facilitated for them and took great pictures.

But, soon, my excuses began to run dry….

1. Time: we were not going to run out of time and there WAS time for me to actually do it and still have everyone get their fun
2. Ability: my less-physically fit daughters (sorry girls, but I know you’re not shocked here) were climbing the pole like champs.
3. Been there, done that: more of a lie than an excuse because I remembered how much FUN it was last time.

So, as I looked at my watch, looked at the pole, gathered some courage and actually dared myself a little, I went for the climbing harness. I took the plunge….or, should I say the climb. I might have been a little winded at the top more from my nerves more than from the climb itself. I might have awkwardly reached the platform without the greatest of technique, but I made it, I breathed, I followed directions and I soared 600 beautiful feet….AND IT WAS AWESOME, just like before.

I realized that, in reality, so much of my caution, fear and trepidation wasn’t even really in the climb or zip-line at all, it was in the stress that me, as a mother and family group activity planner, wouldn’t/couldn’t/didn’t let myself just enjoy the idea of a doing it myself.

It did look a little scary, but I really was fine, once I made sure everyone else had their turn. Moms just seem to need to have all their little duckies in a row, I guess.

When there was time for me, MOM, to actually be a kid again and enjoy a fun, somewhat daring and quite exhilarating time for myself, I wasn’t scared at all. Moms, I concluded, just get into the habit of putting themselves so far down the list sometimes that we don’t give ourselves a chance to do all that we arrange for others. I relish the role of being the one with the servant heart who tries to provide experiences for the family but resides a bit on the outside.

But there are few times in life like this one, and I’m glad I didn’t let it get by. The zip line was the best activity we did on vacation, outside of good family time together, so I’m very glad we didn’t “run out of time” (or me out of courage 😉 )

I even climbed up for second ride and, this time, others were shooting the pictures.

But this picture is one of a daughter, far more daring than I on the “zip” part.

Credit fun to Snow Mountain Ranch, YMCA of the Rockies.