“Whether you believe you can or can’t, you are right” – Henry Ford
Fitted with a rock climbing-style harness and strapped to a rope, I’m suspended high above the ground surrounded by trees – standing on a platform constructed into a tree canopy. I hold my breath and nervously take my first step off, venturing into the biggest challenge I’ve ever faced – as I make my way across a series of planks that rattle and sway in the breeze.
Last month, I secretly planned and surprised a few family members to an Ariel Obstacle Adventure Course. A variety of obstacles set high in trees – ranging from zip lines to rope swings, scrambling walls, hanging nets, wobbly bridges and suspended “surprises”.
This was an opportunity to spend a fun and challenging day with my family and I also did it for personal reasons – to face my fear of heights. Not knowing fully what I was getting myself into, I subjected myself to 2.5 hours of complete physical and mental exhaustion.
A total of four levels – each taking me to a higher elevation as the obstacles become much more difficult and challenging. As scared as I was, I managed to keep my fears “somewhat” under control and eventually found myself getting into a rhythm, zeroing in and focusing on what I have to do to get through each task.
Every time I finished an obstacle I’d breathe a sigh of relief only to come face to face with one that was more intense and challenging. I kept pressing forward accomplishing each goal without taking any time to rest in between. It was all about head down and plow through – try to remember to breathe and to take it one stair at a time instead of looking at the entire staircase.
After what seemed like eternity, I hit a wall. At this point, I have no idea what level I’m at or how far along I am on this never-ending path to hell. Feeling completely exhausted, dehydrated and somewhat disoriented, I reach the mother of all obstacles – four separate logs, six feet in length, set up as swings and positioned in a zigzag method forcing me to switch body positions as I have to jump from one log to the other.
Without taking time to rest and work out a strategy as to how I could get through this challenge, I clamped on to the overhead rope and stepped out only to find myself overcome with shear panic and fear as the log swung out from under me leaving me dangling in mid-air only being supported by a small bungy cord. There was nothing I could do..I had no other choice but to hang there and anxiously wait for the log to find its place back underneath my feet.
After finding my footing I somehow found the inner strength to stay calm long enough to make my way back to the platform. Weak and feeling out of control, I fell to the bottom of the platform completely exhausted. I was frozen in fear and felt that I reached my breaking point – I wanted out of this craziness. I was ready to quit.
I shouted out for a guide to come help me and within minutes a young guy was standing below – yelling out, “Are you ok?” “No, I’m not…I give up..I can’t go any further..I’m finished..I want down from here..Now!”
“Are you sure you want to quit now - you’re so close to completing the course. You just have to get through this obstacle and do a zip line and then you are done.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing…after all the blood, sweat and tears I put into fighting my way to accomplishing this goal - all that was standing between me and victory was this monster of an obstacle.
Right there and then I had to make a decision – either walk away and be satisfied with how far I’ve come and live with the regret knowing that I gave up when the finish line was within reach; or I could dig deep to find the inner strength and courage to ride the final dragon to claim victory.
It was a bumpy and terrifying ride but I can proudly say ”mission accomplished”.
The long and winding road
Every goal we set is going to have obstacles. If goals didn’t have obstacles, then we wouldn’t have any trouble achieving them. Obstacles are what make goals challenging and motivating. Although obstacles can be frustrating, without them any goal could be easily achieved without motivation or effort. Without obstacles or challenges, life would be dull and boring and void of any excitement, drive or motivation.
You can either step forward into growth or step back into safety.