Overcoming Obstacles: How Climbing a 50 Foot Tree Taught Me How To Reach My Goals

This isn’t the exact tree. But it’s what the tree I climbed looked like.

Back in September, I was inducted into a class, Leadership Atmore, in which individuals with diverse backgrounds and experiences and have demonstrated talent and commitment for leadership, come together to learn more about the social and economic changes that impact the community to devise a plan to help it grow. To kick it off, we spend a 2 day trip to Camp Beckwith participating in team building activities, to teach you how to learn to interact positively together with one another to overcome obstacles.The group activities were amazing and taught me a great deal of trust. I, for one, have never trusted anyone to boost me over a 10 foot wall. LOL! At the end of the day, the final obstacle we were asked to complete was to climb a tree that was approximately 50 feet and then connect to a zip line, which you would be required to jump from the elevated platform to do.

There would be 16 of us who would complete the task. And I would be number 15. Why would I be the 15th person? I’m sure this is your thoughts. First of all, I had convinced myself that it was ok for me to opt out of it. I have a terrible fear of heights, so the thought of dropping 45 feet didn’t appeal to me. Although they had assured me the protective gear that I’d be wearing, along with the lady who would “Balay” me would keep me from tragedy. As each member went up the tree, I began to think more and more that I was doing the right thing. Even when others told me that the ride was worth the climb, I still didn’t think that my feet and hands would allow me to safe climb that tree in tennis shoes and no gloves. My hands grew sweaty with every other person who finished. Then there was one teammate who continued to tell me it was what I wanted to do. So he took the harness and raised my legs to glide the harness over them. He and another teammate helped to fasten the buckles around my hips.

As I walked over to the tree, I had begin to tell myself that I could indeed do this. And there was no turning back. From the first step, to the first grab of the peg that looked like a science lab cabinet fixture, I talked to myself telling myself that I was the person to conquer this. I hurried to the top of the tree to make it to the landing. As I thru my thigh over the platform all I could hear was my breathing that was causing my chest to beat incredibly fast. As the assistant at the top secured me to the tree, and waited for the zip connector to reach us, all I could see was the tops of other trees across the forest. Once the assistance secured my harness to the zip line, she told me that I was free to jump off and repel across the forest. I kept asking her to make sure I heard her correctly. After the third time I asked her if it was fine for me to leave the platform, I paused…and told her to push me because it was the only way I was going to leave that platform. As I stopped breathing knowing that I had dropped off the platform and was now zipping through the air. I finally decided to open my eyes. I had to make sure that my body hadn’t splattered on the ground.

Once I slowed down and the guys disconnected me from the line, I walked back to where it had all began. As I walked, I could see the tree in the distance and tears began to flow down my face. Overwhelmed with emotion, the crying continued on. And my roommate came over to make sure I was ok. Looking up at my fear and knowing I had overcame it, was one of the best things I’d ever experienced. After I regained my composure, I started to reflect on the beginning of my journey and I realized that the tree climb had taught me 4 key things about myself and what it will take for me to accomplish my goals.

Obviously, this isn’t me. But the zip line that I went across looked like this, and the scenery was quite similar, as well.

#1. Think Positively With the End in Mind – The first thing I had to do was tell myself that I could do it,  and be consistent. From the very first step, I was talking to myself and positively affirming that I would make it to the top of the tree.

#2. Tune Out People – As I was climbing the tree, I remember a teammate telling me that I didn’t have to go so fast. But to take my time. I remember thinking to myself that if I slowed down, I may actually think about what I was doing and freeze mid way. So, I tuned those out and moved on to….

#3. Remain Focused: Look Straight Ahead – Although I moved steadily, I didn’t look anywhere but towards the platform, which I had to reach. I didn’t look down (back), nor to the sides of the tree. I looked straight up and suddenly I felt that I was actually walking up the tree.

#4. Will Sometimes Require A Push to Move On – There are some things in this life that you aren’t willing to do on your own. They will require a push. When I got to the platform, I had met my goal of getting to the top. But the truth to the matter is…I was going to have to be pushed to jump off of it and move on to the next thing.

When I reflect back on my life and all of my accomplishments, those 4 things above were always in place for me to reach and exceed the things I wanted to do. I’m thankful that God provides opportunities to speak to you, to give you a better understanding of what may be hindering you from getting where he wants you to be. Have you thought about what things are necessary for you to achieve your goals? I’d love to hear about them. Share your 2 cents with me….



My Savvy Two Cents


For more information about Camp Beckwith and booking a Challenge Course retreat, go to http://www.campbeckwith.org/

For information on Leadership Atmore, visit http://www.atmorechamber.com/


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