With a secure harness around her waist and a helmet on her head, she anxiously watched other women walk to the platform and be linked to the overhead cable by the facility expert. With cheers of encouragement, each woman then walked to the edge of the platform and, when they were ready, stepped off into thin air for the 600 foot zip line ride through the forest.
Tension grew in Angie’s face as she watched the women go before her and imagined taking the steps herself. Her 3 employees stood nearby and chatted excitedly about the opportunity to participate in this team building exercise and to support each other in being brave. First one, then another, went and soon it was Angie’s turn. She quietly said to me, “Well, there’s no turning back now. Here I go.” Even though no one was forcing her to do this she seemed to tap into an inner source of strength and bravely stepped to the platform and allowed herself to be linked to the zip line. She hesitantly approached the edge of the platform and fearfully looked down. Encouraging words from the watching women reminded her to look forward towards her goal…the end of the line and not at the ground below her. Taking a deep breath, and whispering a soft prayer, she stepped off the platform and was soon flying through the air. Clinging to the cable before her and feeling the rush of wind against her face, Angie’s look of fear soon spread into a smile of pure joy. The exhilaration of the ride overtook all her worries in the minutes that she zipped through the air. As she landed safely at the end of the line her joyful smile grew even bigger as she realized that she “did it”! The thrill of the ride was only surpassed by the exhilaration she felt inside for stepping beyond her fears. Receiving hugs and claps on the back from her employees and other surrounding women, Angie was practically floating as she walked through the woods back to the starting point.
I asked her how it felt and she radiated pure enthusiasm as she told me that is wasn’t as bad as she thought it would be…in fact it was really fun. We chatted as we moved to the next activity, a free-fall swing. Riding on her sense of accomplishment from having done the zip line, Angie looked at this next challenge and discovered her anxiety was again returning. Harnessed to a Y cable, women were being hoisted into the air by their teammates. When they were ready, each woman pulled the trigger to release themselves into a free-fall swing through the tree tops. Screams of excitement, delight, and also some fear resonated around Angie as she watched from a distance. “I’m not so sure about this one,” was her comment to me as we moved to pull the next woman into position. “Do what feels right for you,” was my advice to her, “we will support you in stretching as far as you want to go today.”
After watching each woman in our group do the free-fall swing from a variety of heights, Angie bravely stepped forward and said, “This scares me but I want to do it. I don’t want to wake up tomorrow and regret that I didn’t do this.” With that she was attached to the Y cable and we slowly raised her into the air. Within a few feet she said loudly, “That’s enough…stop right there.” And we did. Respecting her wishes and the courage that she was tapping into to be in this position, we waited until she was ready to pull the trigger and release herself into a free-fall. Cheers surrounded her once more as she swung back and forth and then gently slowed to a stop. The smile that lit her face made my day. This 62 year- old woman epitomized for me what it means to me to be brave.
She felt her fear, yet she set herself up for success in several key ways which she explained to me afterwards.
She surrounded herself with people who encouraged her and supported her intention to overcome her fears. She educated herself about the risks and made sure that she was working with experts who ensured a safe approach to those risks. She brought a team to experience it with her and to remind her who she wants to be. And last, but not least, she tapped into her own inner source of courage and strength. Believing in herself, and the God that she leans on, she took the leap to be all that she wants to be.
Almost a year later, I checked in with Angie to see how her courage has developed and the impact it has had on her business and her life this past year. She said, “I’ve always been a cautious person, but I’ve come to realize that I don’t want my life to be controlled by fear. Stepping out and trying something that terrified me was exhilarating. Now when faced with a challenge, whether in business or in life, my new mantra is “I can do this!”
What does it take for you to be brave and overcome your fears?
Do you need information? Do you need support and encouragement from others? Does it help to see someone else go first before you take a leap?
Whether you need people, information, perspective, prayer or a combination of all four, it’s wise to know how to tap into your courage. Most of us face fear on a daily basis and we learn ways to overcome the mild nervousness we experience in order to do what we need to do each day.
But how do we manage the big things that scare us? Financial, medical, and relationship issues are just some of life’s challenges that can cause great anxiety within us. How do we find the courage to face these challenges?
I have found these three steps helpful when facing fear:
- Identify the fear. This can be hard to do because it feels vulnerable to admit that we are afraid. Yet, when we name our fear we begin to see how to manage it. Choices emerge about how to overcome fear once we see it and name it.
- Have a support team. Surround yourself with people who you trust and who inspire you to be brave. They will model courage for you and will cheer you on when you achieve both major and minor accomplishments.
- Take small steps. Courage grows every time you do something that scares you. For some of us it may be speaking in public, running a business, or learning a new skill…our fears vary and are as unique as we are. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Do one thing every day that scares you” which reminds us that courage takes practice. With every small step forward through our fears we develop our inner strength and courage.
What steps are you taking today to be brave?
*If you would like information about the 2015 Wholistic Woman Physical Adventure retreat on July 29th visit www.wholisticwomanretreats.com for details and to reserve your spot. Questions can be sent firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Thank you to Angela Martin, owner of Shepherd’s Staff In-Home Care, and Wholistic Woman Member, for sharing her inspiring story with us.
This article was written by Carol deLaski, a professional certified coach, speaker, author, and co-founder of Wholistic Woman Retreats. She specializes in strengths development for businesses and individuals. To contact her email Carol@caroldelaski.com.