A few weeks ago, I went rock climbing. It’s an interesting choice because I have a slight fear of heights. I don’t volunteer to climb ladders. I don’t get excited by the idea of skydiving. No, I like to keep my feet on the ground.
Somehow, though, I agreed to go rock climbing. I had a curiosity about it, especially since I had tried and failed to climb a rock wall a few years ago. I thought I might be better prepared for rock climbing with some of the training I’ve been doing primarily for myself and coincidentally for the Tough Mudder.
I was prepared well enough for the physical activity of climbing; however, the mental activity almost defeated me. I wasn’t even a quarter of the way up my first climb, and I felt the fear of falling and the fear of failing. I wrestled with the fear of falling – despite the safety harness – and I dealt with the fear of failing by moving one foothold and one handhold higher. Eventually, I reached the top of the wall and was able to ring the bell.
Pushing oneself to the next level with one’s work isn’t all that different except no safety harness is given. No guarantees of safety are made. It’s a scary place to be. The person recognizes it’s time to move onto the next level, but he or she also knows what the next level means. It means moving forward with little to no certainty of the outcome. It means risking ridicule and failure. It means ignoring the people who say how to reach the next level or who plead with the person to return to the ground. It requires making a decision: moving a step closer to the top or returning to the safety of the ground.
The one who chooses to take the next step does so carefully. The act is not done blindly or impetuously. It’s done with a full understanding of what the next step means, and it means no turning back. It means more climbing to come. It necessitates making certain that the next step will hold his or her foot at the very least. The climber moves up one step, then another. He or she reaches the top, then prepares to climb another wall.
Photo: Janet (CC BY NC 2.0)