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Harnesses, Helmets, and Courage

Written by Tracey Hulick, Senior Loan Operations Manager

Unless you work from home and never leave, you probably interact with other people on a daily basis. Maybe you’re an extrovert or maybe you’re an introvert, but no matter what your people preference, you have to deal with them. You work for them, you work with them, and you need to create success with them.

I recently accepted a great opportunity to work closely with our Kansas City team. It’s a chance for me to get to know them, help fine tune some things, and work together to create a scalable model for successful growth.

A few weeks ago I was invited to join their group to take part in a team building exercise… on a ropes course at Challenge U. I jumped at the chance since I love to get uncomfortable, but heights have always been a hangup for me.

As the day unfolded I was getting more comfortable with my new coworkers and learning more about everyone in the process. When it came time to tackle the ropes course I was anxious, but also curious as soon as I set my eyes on it. It was a task that required you to be in a pair, so I closely watched the first few sets of men climb up the poles, cross over the wire, and then maneuver around each other in the middle to get to the opposite side.

Knowing that waiting longer would be agonizing, I agreed to be a part of the first female pair to rise to the challenge that day. A co-worker of mine and I were suited up in our harnesses, helmets and courage. As I started climbing up the pole, it only took five feet for my heart to jump up in my throat, and for my hands to start sweating. The top of the pole looked light years away and I thought to myself ‘What if I can’t even get up there? What if I freeze? What kind of leader freezes half way up a telephone pole?’

I paused for a moment to reign in my thoughts and shifted my focus to the words of encouragement I was hearing. One of my co-worker’s voices carried above all the others and I felt a boost of bravery… so I kept moving. Step by step, I’d ask myself, ‘Can you take one more step?’, and my answer was repeatedly ‘Yes.’

Once Jonalyn and I reached the wire portion, there was a lot more to concentrate on and I made sure to focus on supporting her and seeing if she was okay. Getting my focus off of myself was a welcomed shift in gears. Everyone on the ground kept cheering, helping guide us to the next step, and convincing us we were braver than we felt in the moment!

Before we knew it we were to the opposite side of the wire and ready to celebrate! Our expert belayers had us on the ground and celebrating quickly. (A belayer is the person on the ground that can catch a climber’s fall by managing the rope.) The rest of the team offered high fives, hugs, and humor to mark the accomplishment. I felt so incredibly supported in that moment. 

I couldn’t help but reflect on the power of the group. The energy and value each person brought that day had an impact. I have no doubt that if the rest of them hadn’t been there supporting me, I would have had a much harder time accomplishing the ropes course exercise. I may not have even completed it. The contribution of the group got me to my goal.

That was a prime example of how a group is stronger than the individual. Each person had their own unique value to add. Cheering, making sure the climbers were okay, helping guide the person to the next step, or even holding the excess rope for the belayer.

All important. All necessary. All combined to create success.

It was the perfect way for me to be brought into this new work group. It helps me see that all these people will play a part in helping me add the most value I can to their team. Their experiences, thoughts, ideas, and personalities will help me do the best work possible for their group.

Each person in this group, and every other group I ever encounter, has a voice and a skill that will contribute to the whole…a contribution that can lead to success if people are willing to hear them.

Stephen Covey summed it up best when he said, “Interdependent people combine their own efforts with the efforts of others to achieve their greatest success.”

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