Building Confidence, Despite a Shaky Start
Tree to Tree Teambuilding
Rowland Publishing’s Matt Algarin takes to the treetops and faces his fears. Along the way he learns a thing or two about patience, collaboration
As I stood there with my “C hook” in hand, I couldn’t escape the fear pulsing through my body. Just moments earlier I had, essentially, signed away my life on an iPad.
I was already second guessing my decision. How bad would it look if I chickened out before ascending the first ladder? I hadn’t even made it up to The Canopy Crossing’s first tree platform or across the first obstacle, but my palms were sweating inside my gloves.
Strapped into my harness, I knew I would be safe; but the thought of climbing from tree to tree was still intimidating. Truth be told, I was scared. I stared at the trees above my head, knowing they would be my next destination. My knees began to quiver.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Tree-to-Tree Adventure at the Tallahassee Museum, The Canopy Crossing is the introductory adult course, wherein you traverse 14–18 treetop challenges and speed across two zip lines, all located 20 or so feet above the ground. For the average person, the course is probably a cinch — which was evidenced by the ease at which my co-workers navigated the obstacles.
But as someone who has a fear of heights, my decision to participate in this group outing during our annual company meeting hadn’t come easily. But I had decided to face my fears, as cliché as that may sound, because I had known I would be disappointed in myself if I left the museum without trying something new. And besides that, everyone else was doing it. No pressure, right?
Rowland Publishing employee Lori Yeaton glides through the air with ease, passing by live oaks and fellow co-workers.
So, I slowly — and I mean very, very slowly — navigated the course, one uneasy step at a time. I was probably moving at a turtle’s pace, gripping the cables along the course with every ounce of strength I could muster. I could feel my legs shaking beneath me.
I kept telling myself not to look down, but I couldn’t help it. Every slight wobble in my step evoked a sense of panic. It’s amazing how fearful I was of falling, despite the fact that it wasn’t possible, as I was secured to the cables from the course’s start to its finish by a metal carabiner clip that was attached to my harness. But that assurance didn’t matter.
Eventually, I zipped along the last line to the final cushioned platform and descended the ladder that led back to solid ground. I thought about kissing the earth beneath my feet — but that seemed a bit much.
With my adventure behind me, I can tell you two things for sure: One, I’m not as flexible or as fit as I should be — which was made obvious both the day of my climbing experience and the next morning, when my arms and legs ached; and two, I’m proud of myself. I had pushed my fear of heights aside and had embarked on an adventure. And I survived. It was a small victory, but it was a victory, nonetheless.
It’s not easy to step outside of your comfort level; but if you don’t try every once in awhile, you are going to miss out on some awesome experiences. So whether you have a fear of heights or of speaking in front of a large group (somehow I ended up with both), don’t let your fear hold you back. Sure, your legs might shake and your palms might sweat, but what’s the worst that can happen?
There are plenty of other activities that I’m not particularly fond of, like exercising and dieting; but with my newfound confidence, perhaps I should give them a go. I’ll keep you posted on my progress. Wish me luck!
Tree-to-Tree Adventure at the Tallahassee Museum
Soar over cypress swamps and conquer aerial obstacles at heights of up to 60 feet. There are three courses to choose from. Ranging in difficulty, TREEmendous Adventure, Canopy Crossing and Soaring Cypress, which is the largest and fastest of them all. For more information, visit tallahasseemuseum.org.