Forward, Always Forward!

by John on December 4, 2017

I didn’t expect to get dizzy when I reached the top, but I did. My first thought was “JP, what in the hell were you thinking?”

I willingly climbed up an 8-foot ladder and then another 40 feet off the ground to the top of the tower and tried to turn around on a pole. Yes, I was wearing a climbing harness and there were six of my colleagues holding on to the rope, but it was still a bit unnerving.

Who am I kidding, unnerving is me being polite, it was scary. I managed to maneuver and turn around, with my back was solidly pressed against the pole. I didn’t think I could take a step forward, let alone walk to the middle to high five my colleague who was standing on the other side looking just as bewildered.

Turning around was tricky, taking a step forward was even trickier. I shuffled forward tentatively, asking for my colleagues to take up the slack because in my mind the pressure kept me safe.

My mind flashed back to one of my favorite books about General George Patton and his directive “Our basic plan of operation is to advance and keep on advancing regardless of whether we have to go over, under, or through the enemy. We are going to go through!”

My first steps were tentative, the next few got easier and finally I was in the center of the pole. Standing there, looking at a view of Biscayne Bay, and then at my colleague, we managed to finally laugh at ourselves.

Dismounting required you to lean backwards, keeping your legs locked against the pole, looking skyward. You try to “gracefully” descend by not hitting the pole you were just standing on (easier said than done).

Once I hit the ground and climbed out of the gear, I was laughing at my foolishness.

Now you can roll your eyes at work offsites, but this one was different. This simple exercise required you to overcome your personal fears and then truly believe that you colleagues wouldn’t let you fall. Believe me, falling from that height would not be cool.

During the debrief session, we all collectively started to realize what we accomplished. While it wasn’t some radical new strategy, or something incredibly profound, it was eye opening. I realized that you need to, and can trust your team. You need to keep moving forward, always keep moving forward.

Patton’s right, keep on advancing. Even the tentative steps forward are still forward!

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