Life Lessons from the Grand Canyon

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I just got back from a spectacular five-day hiking and camping trip to the Grand Canyon. Although my trip started off a little rough as I twisted my ankle on the first day trekking down into the Canyon, our amazing guide, Chris, wrapped it so well that I didn’t miss a beat.

Chris has experiences and wisdom far beyond his 28 years including practicing his survival skills on a remote island for 13 months with nothing but the clothes on his back and the shoes on his feet, and living with various Native American Indian tribes for a year and a half to learn about their heritage and practices.

On this trip, our hiking group took a huge leap of faith in his ability to keep us safe while stretching us beyond our limits. Chris said this phrase several times and it stuck with me, “Speed is safety. Hesitation kills. Confidence is key.” Its relevance to the business world, and life in general, is what leads me to share it with you today.

1. Speed is safety

Speed matters, whether you’re striving to be first to market or meet a business goal, or trying to get to the other side of a steep cliff. To face that huge challenge you must keep moving forward. Taking a step, no matter how small, can help you learn that critical lesson or give you the ability to see things from a different vantage point.

Although speed matters, so does rest. So, when you feel your energy draining or the signs of burnout creeping up on you, take a break – but not for too long. In other words, rest long enough to boost your energy but short enough to keep you from getting stiff and stopping entirely. You have to strike a good balance between getting rest and maintaining momentum.

2. Hesitation kills

Hesitation can be deadly. I see it kill ideas on a daily basis as that golden opportunity passes by – that moment that will never return. To bring this to life, I want to share a personal experience from my trip.

On day three, I vividly remember holding onto a boulder as we hiked across the rocks and down into the water. I was gasping for my next breath from the sheer force of the cold air from the gushing waterfall 10 feet away and blinded by water spraying into my eyes …and tentative because of my injured ankle.

As I rubbed my eyes, sure that my contact lenses had washed away, I shouted to the person behind me, “I don’t know if I can do this!” As I stood there getting pounded by the water and wind, I knew I couldn’t hesitate any longer because my indecision was only fueling my fear. Little did I know that it would take only six more steps to get to the other side of what we came to affectionately call “The Jacuzzi.” And just six steps away was one of the most beautiful views of Avatar Falls (appropriately named after the movie by Chris), a view that I would have missed if I had hesitated any longer.

So the next time you find yourself thinking twice or being held back by fear, envision what could be on the other side. What would it really feel like if you achieved that important goal? What would it feel like if you took that leap of faith? All I can say is that I am so glad I took those additional six steps, not only for the view but also because it meant I had conquered my fear.

3. Confidence is key

Confidence plays a huge role in how you view yourself, how others view you, and whether you succeed or fail. Often, stepping out with confidence is more about gathering the information you need to mitigate risk and less about self-doubt.

For example, if you’re standing on land wondering whether you should jump through the waterfall into the water below, you might ask, “Where are the rocks? How deep is the water? How strong is the current, and what should I do if I get caught in it?”

Similarly, if you’re wondering whether the time is right to share your “big idea” or ask for resources, make a list of the questions for which you need answers, anticipate the resistance you might encounter, and develop a game plan.

As I reflected about this trip, I realized what an amazing opportunity it truly was. Just remember that you don’t have to go all the way to the Grand Canyon to seize opportunities. They are right in front of you every day. So, I want to challenge you to seize the next one – no matter how small – with speed and confidence, and without hesitation.

 

© 2012 Neena Newberry | All rights reserved.

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