Just the other day, I attended a leadership retreat on a cold, rainy weekend morning with nine other members from my leadership club. We were planning to spend the day outdoors (in the bloody rain), and do some obstacle courses/games to build our teamwork skills. Sounds like fun, eh?
Don’t get me wrong: I definitely enjoyed the experience. But I wasn’t expecting the rain to actually…fall down that day, that morning, when we were having our activity. Especially outdoors with little roofing over us (except for a smattering of trees here and there…). I hate the rain, even though I know that we sorely need it, from where I live (fyi we’re in the middle of a drought period).
Anyway, I’m off-track. We spend the next three hours doing “team exercises,” aka participating in games that required us to communicate, plan out strategies, and encouraging each other to push ourselves out of our comfort zones in order to grow.
And I have to admit, I’ve learned a bit in those three, intense hours- about myself, about my club members, and about how we interacted with one another.
We did around four to five different games, but the one that most stuck out for me was the final one, which required climbing a ladder twenty feet up a pole, tight-roping along a thin wire with a partner, and making it all of the way to the other side of the other pole. I partnered up, harnessed up, and scaled the ladder.
Now one thing to know about me is that I do have a general fear of heights. Not a phobia, but I do get afraid when I look down from a high place. Everything gets kind of…blurry for me. Fuzzy, even: my vision blackens around the edges, , I silently hyperventilate, and I start to swear like crazy. Which was exactly what I did during the tight-roping portion of the activity: I was latched onto my partner (who had done this before, and so didn’t seem as nervous) as we both went along the wire together, shakily and slowly. My fear of falling or losing balance overwhelmed me, and so my mental state kind of hindered me from remaining calm and continuing across the wire. But my partner’s reassurance and my teammate’s encouragement from below helped me become less scared, and by mid-point along the wire, I was feeling better.
We were really close to the end of the pole on the other side. Unfortunately, my partner slipped on the wire (the rain made the rope slippery), and so we lost balance. In a split second, we were dangling in the air. Our teammates helped lower us down safely, but it’s a shame that we didn’t make it all of the way to the pole. Literally, we were a step away from doing so. But nevertheless, I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished- my goal had been to climb all of the way to the top of the ladder, which I’ve achieved by a long shot.
What I learned that day was the value of trust. I can be comfortable with others who I know, like my team members, but the extent to which I can entrust them with my life, my safety, was something else. But I put my trust into them, and I was not let down. I also reciprocated by being trustworthy to them while they scaled the ladder and wire. I thank my partner during that activity, as well as my teammates, for re-instilling in me the ability to trust.
Really, trust is a beautiful thing. 🙂
– The Finicky Cynic