What to do when something about your big dream scares the schiznitz out of you!

What to do when something about your big dream scares the schiznitz out of you!

A few years ago… I had a dilemma.

We lived in Montana and I wanted to learn how to rock climb. BUT… at the same time… I was freakishly afraid of heights.

I had a decision to make.

I could either simply stick to the safe trails… OR I could learn to overcome this fear and enjoy all that the untamed Rockies had to offer.

So… I figured out a first step.

I signed up for a rock climbing class.

I’ll never forget standing at the foot of the rock face with Melissa (my amazing wife), a friend and the rest of our small class… as our young but seasoned mountain guide began to walk us through the basics of knot tying and rope tension.

During one of the lulls of his teaching… I slowly raised my hand.

He called on me… and I asked my question.

“So… hypothetically… if you had someone who was really afraid of heights… hypothetically… what would you do to help them get over that… I mean… hypothetically?”

He got excited, and said… “Bro… that’s easy. I’d rope ’em up and hang them off the side of a cliff for about 45 minutes.”

I think I maintained a pretty good poker face… but inside I was thinking… “This guy is CRAZY! I’ve signed up with a mad man!” But then I looked at the rest of the group… and they were all nodding in agreement.

He continued, “See bro… the human body can’t maintain high levels of fear for more than about 45 minutes. So if I rope someone up and hang them off the side of the cliff… eventually… usually at about minute 42 of 43… their fear starts to diminish and they start to really get into it. By the 45-minute mark… they are usually in love with the view!”

Yeah… I was thinking… “CRAZY.”

But guess what…

It worked!

That’s right.

I can’t even begin to tell you how scary it was to step off that rock for the first time… and just hang there by the seemingly thin rope hooked to the harness around my waist.

BUT at about 38 minutes… I started to fall in love.

My heart stopped racing and I started to see things in a whole new way.

I can say that I’ve never experienced a “drug-induced high,” but I’m guessing that this mountain experience smoked (please excuse the pun) that.

At about that 38 to 39 minute mark… the green of the evergreens below grew richer. The texture of the rock face in front of me was captivating! The clouds in the “big sky” above were more dramatic than I’d ever seen.

From under that rock shelf I was hanging from… I started to yell… “I love this! This is amazing!” (Yeah… I definitely sounded like on was on a “Rocky Mountain High!”)

That 45 minutes changed everything.

After that…

I’m not going to tell you that all my fear of heights were erased. BUT I will say that I went from freakish levels of fear to a “healthy respect” for the heights that come along with being in the mountains.

Plus… by taking this first step… incredible opportunities to see the mountains in a whole new way started to open up! I got to climb more remote mountains. I got to meet new friends. I got to push myself. And I got to see things that most people will never be able to see.

Eventually, I was even asked to help lead a climb that would take a young man to the top of a mountain to help him work through the loss of his twin brother. It was a life changing trip for many reasons… but one I would have never taken if I hadn’t broken through that fear of heights.

It would not have happened if I hadn’t had my “hang off the cliff” moment.

So… how about you?

What is something you’re wanting to do?

And… just as importantly… what’s a fear that’s getting in the way?

Here are a couple of examples from some of my coaching allies from this past week. (I use the word “ally” instead of “client.”)

  1. A budding entrepreneur who wants a successful and sustainable business but feels stuck. She knows exactly what she wants the business to look like… but has been afraid of some of the technology that could help her get there. Well… this week… her “hanging off the cliff” step is just setting up a auto-responder sequence through MailChimp.com. (That may not seem like much to some… but it’s a HUGE step for her because she’s breaking through her fear! AND… I just got an email from her celebrating her first successful step in the process!)
  2. A budding writer who has a crazy-busy schedule. His “hanging off the cliff” step is blocking out protected time (30 minutes a day) to write. (That may not seem like much to some… but it’s a huge step when he’s having to take some risks to make that change in his daily schedule.)
  3. A successful leader in the throws of taking his team to the next level. His “hanging off the cliff” step is to have a crucial conversation with a team member. Going in with intentionality, being focused, not taking things personally and wanting the best for the person. (That may not seem like much… but you leaders know how tough these conversations can be.)

Now… none of these examples involve anyone actually hanging off the side of a rock face… but they do involve risk. And risk can be hard. But… those who are willing to take risks from time to time… are also the people who achieve their dreams and goals.

What might it be for you… this week?

Seriously… what’s something you’d love to do?

What could your “Hang off the cliff” step be… this week?

What small but significant step could you take to break through the fear… this week… and move forward?

What if you wrote it down?

What if you took that step?

Join in the conversation and let us know.

Also… I’d love to hear from you on what some of your “hang off the cliff” moments have been.

What have been some of the experiences you’ve had that scared the schiznitz out of you… but also opened the doors to the very things you wanted to do? Maybe they taught you something about yourself. Maybe they helped you to test your metal. Maybe they just allowed you to see what you were capable of.

Click on comments and share one of your own “hang off the cliff” moments. I’d love to hear it!

Thanks gang!

Keep dreaming big and helping others to do the same,


  • mitchamatthews
    Posted at 11:57h, 30 July Reply

    Okay gang.

    I have to confess that I wrestled with this blog post.

    I had planned on posting it today… but over the weekend… a very dear friend passed away from injuries suffered in a hiking accident.

    So all of a sudden… this subject matter became much more tender and the frailty of life became even more evident.

    As a result, I almost hit delete a number of times.

    BUT… this friend was a true mentor, leader and believer in pushing yourself (and others) to achieve all that you were created to achieve.

    So… instead of “delete” I hit “publish” to honor the memory of Drake Martin… and all of the dreams that he helped to make happen!

    Thanks Drake! We love you buddy!

  • Tami Petersen Trewet
    Posted at 12:14h, 30 July Reply

    First off–I think you made the right decision about publishing your blog today. Risk-takers “get it” and I think Drake would “get” this in a big way.

    I am a rock climbing type. Nothing spectacular…but my first experiences were terrifying. I cried all the way up and all the way down my first beginner climb. (later I heard it was called “Beginner’s Rock”. I was crushed as I thought it was a lot tougher than that!) But I learned to trust the rope and the belayer. And I really like it now.

    The best advice I ever received about working through the fears of big dreams was: DO IT AFRAID. I don’t have to have everything figured out. I don’t have to know the outcome. If I have planned as well as I am able…then I have to trust the rope and the belayer. It may fail…but it may succeed. And I’ll never know until I go for it. 🙂

  • Dee
    Posted at 11:30h, 31 July Reply

    Today was the right time to publish this in honor of Drake and his inspiration to so many.

  • DrMollieMarti
    Posted at 13:08h, 31 July Reply

    Condolences on the loss of your friend and mentor, Mitch.

    You made the right decision in publishing this. It honors Drake’s spirit of adventure and the impact he had on you and so many others.

    I commit to “hang over the cliff” this week by scheduling chunks of time to work on a grant app with a dwindling deadline. Upon reflection, it is worth this commitment/effort — and the risk that it might not pan out. And I’ll share your call to more with others!

    Much love, Mollie

  • Pingback:Dr. Mollie’s Weekly Musings 8-1-12
    Posted at 12:24h, 01 August Reply

    […] blog honoring a mentor and challenging YOU to hang off the side of a cliff (by […]

Post A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.