I recently went on a Mystery Trip that took me to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Participants on the trip were told a day, time, and airport that was our starting point and two hours after the destination was revealed we were on a plane headed south…way south!!
During the trip, we took an excursion to Tijuca National Park, claimed to be the world’s largest urban forest and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We were to hike in the rainforest, visit waterfalls, caves, and enjoy the biosphere.
The morning of the excursion started with rain in Rio. Our guide picked us up, looked at our group and asked if we had raingear? Given the “mystery” of the trip we were ill prepared and begged the hotel for plastic rain ponchos, aka “hefty bags with hoods!”
We drove to the forest and left the warmth of the van. We began a six mile hike up the mountains through the forest, amidst the rain, and puddles. Within an hour my shoes and feet were wet, but I kept on. We started to climb, and I was slipping and sliding. It was obvious that my city walking shoes did not provide the necessary traction for this terrain. I calculated every step for fear of falling and came close several times. As a result, I slowed down the group. I was embarrassed and wanted to be the last in line so that no one would see me struggle. My group said “No, we want to make sure you are OK, we will watch your back.”
After three hours of hiking uphill, our guide shared the rest of the plan. He said, “We will stop at the van, and I will gather food for our lunch. After our break, we will hike up to the caves, and continue for two more hours.” My thoughts were, two more hours?!! No way, I cannot do this! I considered, quitting, drying off, and siting in the van for the next couple of hours. Then I realized, if the group had my back, I could not let them down and quit. Onward and upward!
After our picnic in the rain, the guide asked if I would like to use his walking poles to help with traction. I was the only one that needed the poles. It was embarrassing but also a time to be vulnerable and accept help, I loudly said, “Yes!”
I had never used walking sticks and assumed they were like ski poles. I placed them firmly in the ground and pushed forward. After a few minutes, our guide explained the correct placement of the poles. He gave clear direction and demonstrated the proper technique. I tried again, and it became easier. After a steep climb, the guide gave me “advanced tips” and I proceeded to walk with certainty and confidence.
Two hours later we came to the end of our hike. We met our driver, peeled off our rain ponchos, and climbed into a warm van to drive back to our hotel. The forest, waterfalls, caves, trees, and birds were beautiful. This was a once in a lifetime experience that I almost missed because of my “fear of falling.” I was proud that I did not take the easy way out and quit. How often does our fear stand in the way of our greatness?
People “give up” when the road appears too steep or treacherous. Knowing that the team and leader “have your back” helps you put one foot in front of the other and climb to the next level.
Needing help and asking for help are quite different, the essential ingredients are honesty, vulnerability, and a humble attitude. The phrases “Can you help me?” and “I need you.” can create the most connected relationships we have. You must have the team goal in mind, as it is more encompassing than a personal gain. When you reflect on the people who have been “there for you” professionally and personally, they were those that you could lean on when you did not know have sure footing or know your next step.
Proper equipment, training, coaching, guidance, and a team builds confidence and leads to success. There is no shame in leaning on others, we all become stronger as a result.
You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing and by falling over. Richard Branson.