I went ziplining through the forest canopy on Vancouver Island this past weekend with my young son. I committed to it entirely at his urging and I’m still in awe of his bravery at a young 9 years old. Bravado aside, he has since confessed that upon mounting that first platform, the one thing that made him leap off was the thought that the vehicle that had just delivered us to the top of the mountain had left and he didn’t want to walk all the way downhill through a forest crawling with bears. Smart kid.
As I climbed the first platform and stood at the edge ready to jump off, my knees were weak and my heart was pounding. This is crazy! – I thought, expletive deleted. What if the cable breaks? What if it doesn’t hold me? What if no one catches me at the other end? What if I fall? What if I fail and chicken out, running back to the safety of solid, dependable ground? But I knew I had no choice; a little boy was already gone, depending on me to take that same leap into the unknown. As soon as I stepped off the platform with nothing but air under my feet and went flying toward the second platform, I felt a mix of terror and exhilaration. I screamed in fear and triumph – it was cathartic! This was fun; terrifying, but fun!
It occurred to me that ziplining is just like entrepreneurship. It can be terrifying to take the first leap and step off into the unknown; it’s tempting to return to the “dependable” job; there are frequent challenges and new approaches to try; you might just fail from time to time (in the case of ziplining, hopefully this only means not sticking your Spiderman pose). But it is also exhilarating and rewarding and many of us who have chosen to step off the platform could never return to solid ground. When I decided to leave my job and become an entrepreneur, I knew I had no choice; an independent spirit that had been caged for too long was waiting for me to take the leap and I couldn’t let her down. And after all, there might be bears down there, or at least office politics and dead ends which can be just as disconcerting.
I also came up with some great ideas for my business as I was flying along the longest cable, measuring 1000 ft. It’s amazing what you can come up with in 30 seconds when adrenaline is on your side!
I’d like to know what you think. Similar experience? Similar thoughts?