For the last 15 years I have met with an amazing group of women to intentionally do life with each other, to share the good, the bad the ugly, the highs, the lows, in raw and honest ways. So, it seemed like a most fitting surprise that one of the women, decided to take our group out for a birthday treat: The high-ropes in Taronga Zoo…walking above the treetops, near animals, overlooking the harbour.
I was thrilled. Adventure.
Until I was all geared up and one of the girls said: “Veronika, you’ll be the leader and go first.” It all happened fast - Before I knew it, my harness was clicked in and off I was, standing on the platform of the first challenge, completely freaked out. What on earth was I supposed to do?
It didn’t seem fun at all at this point. All the wobbly wooden parts were moving, shaking, I was shaking – it felt crazy, my heart was racing. My friends’ encouragement from below seemed like a joke “you are doing great Veronika!”
“Don’t they see I am not doing great at all? I don’t do these sorts of heights! I want to go back so badly, just off, just down!” I thought to myself as I was hugging the platform for dear life.
But once you are on the track, there is only one way to go and that is ahead. From one challenge and platform to the next until you finally throw yourself from the final platform by trapeze flying fox back to earth.
We crawled through elevated tunnels, we stepped over obstacles. There was a lot of adrenaline. The first three challenges were mostly frightening and apart from the fear I don’t remember a lot. But then it happened. A turning point. An AHA, moment we each described afterwards with words like this: “This is familiar – it looks different, but I can figure this out”. Then we each reached the next insight: “This rope is actually safe and will hold me.” With this revelation we had found a new freedom! Before we knew it, we looked up and saw the incredible views over Sydney Harbour on one side and the wild rainforest jungle on the other and we each remember taking a deep breath at this point and thoroughly enjoying the experience. There is a sense of accomplishment when we overcome our own fears, when we realise we are capable of so much more than we thought, once we have stepped out.
Here are some of the lessons we learnt:
We all consider ourselves leaders – yet we each had to admit that ‘leaders’ are just as afraid as everyone else – everyone stepping out from the known into the unknown chooses to put on a brave face.
Adventures are more fun being shared – Choose your companions wisely and make sure to look out for each other and cheer each other on as you embrace new adventures
Fear does not subside by waiting, if anything it builds up – so act without delay
Taking one step at a time is often all it takes to build the muscle of courage for what is required next
Regaining perspective and vision is essential for enjoying the views and clarity the elevated heights bring - the seasons of life are to be enjoyed and not endured
Why does this matter?
Without a doubt, our world is at a critical point in history. So many people are desperate, so many relationships are strained, so many systems are broken, so little trust, so much fear, so many situations appear hopeless, so much of nature is in crisis…the list goes on.
Leaders may feel overwhelmed by the complexities at hand, however, I am encouraged by leaders rising up and choosing courage. They choose not to be preoccupied by self-preservation and self-interest. They are willing to start rebuilding the world in the midst of the chaos. They might feel like walking on high-ropes but they know that ultimately they are secured by a top rope that won’t let them fall, even if they slip – they will find their feet again.
Now is the time for leaders to rebuild the world in ways that have not been before and pioneer a path to a better tomorrow. Each one of us in our respective areas. A step at a time. I am encourage by leaders committed to re-building the world bravely and building each other up in the process– I am committed to being a leader AND a cheerleader holding up the energies and confidence other leaders need when taking their steps into their new unchartered territories “Go for it! You have got this! You’ll figure it out!”
What would you do in rebuilding the world if you knew you could not fail? And even if you did it would have been a risk worth taking?