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Ropes Course as Metaphor

I am pretty over-educated when it comes to leadership and coaching. Between business school and coach training, required continuing education and all those courses on assessments and personality that I couldn’t get enough of - I’ve seen a lot of approaches. One course was premised on the idea that you should start a new sport/hobby/activity as a coach so that you can remember what it is like to be a beginner. Another posits that every day you should aim to do something that scares you. I integrated many of these approaches and encouraged clients to embrace the fear and beginnings. And as a coach, you often need to walk the walk before you can talk the talk.

And then I went to a family camp in Yosemite and my partner and I signed up for the high ropes course together. It was a beautiful morning, and I was excited to be active and do something challenging. I felt strong and healthy and couldn’t wait to get started. And when it was our turn I volunteered to climb three stories up the net first to the first platform. This platform would then be followed by walking over a scarcely planked bridge with no railing, and a high wire and another distorted bridge and then zip lining to the end. I got on the net. Climbed up two steps and said “No, no, no! This course is not for me!” I was terrified. I have developed a pretty healthy fear of heights over the past few decades and the idea of being up there without being able to get down was overwhelming. I said no.

But how did I know if this was the right choice for me. At what point is it brave to face your fears and climb up the ropes course and at what point is it brave to walk away. Another part of my education has been about asking for what you want. Being brave enough to say what is not ok with you. Before I stood up and said no there was a pair of 16-year-old girls who also said no. And they did it with such whimsical abandon. Did they also give me permission to say no? I would not have enjoyed the ropes course, and yet I felt insecure about not going for it. Which led me to wonder how my inner masculine guides my need to achieve and climb and do the difficult thing. And my assumption is that it is hard for everyone and that I am required to over come my fear and do the hard thing. I operated from that masculine side for many years over my career as I chased Wall Street and my MBA and physical fitness. And while I have certainly softened and merged that part of me with my feminine – receiving, being – I still hear that voice in my head.

I am glad that I said no. I really had no business up there. And yet the voice lingers. I am being gentle with the voice. Acknowledging the voice and pushing it aside. And I hope to make choices in life that let me say no to emotional and professional challenges that are not quite right. And to be open to what may come without having to jump.

What can you say yes to today? And to what can you say no? Let's talk about your edge and what you should be saying yes to and what you should be saying no to! Contact me at to set up a free consultation! I am coaching virtually and outdoors! I'd love to help you envision and achieve your next greatest success!

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