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Lessons learned on the rock wall

14 May 2019 – my first day home after an amazing eight days on Outward Bound’s Wellbeing course. As we moved to alert level 2 today, I remembered where I was this time 12 months ago and reflected on the lessons learned on the rock wall.

It took me back to the diversity of our group and their resilience. Our range in ages from early 20s to 60 something. Our diverse backgrounds, fitness levels and life experiences and in particular, how we all went through the eight days very differently.  The emotional roller coaster as we pushed ourselves to the limits and peeled back layers with differing trigger points, at differing times throughout the eight days. Those who on the outside appeared extremely extroverted, but were true introverts.  

The days whizzed by filled with new experiences and learnings. 

Rock wall climbing with four climbers at Outward Bound, Anakiwa, NZ

But by day five, my tears flowed as intense emotions rose to the surface. It needed to be, as the ah ha moments dawned and came to the surface.

Day three and we faced the Rock Wall. Everyone made it to the top, some much quicker than others. Each took their own path, finding different foot and hand holds and route to the top. Some froze – they were so far outside their comfort zone, bravely facing their fear. The power of the team cheering them on, the support from their belayer, and their own tenacity got them to the top. Some were bruised and sore from the exertion which was overshadowed by the elation and sense of achievement. A strong belief in the impeccable safety systems allowed me to focus on my next move, and not worry about falling. I got there, it certainly wasn’t easy and there were times not far from the top, that I wanted to pack it in.

Like the rock wall, we have all experienced the last two months in very different ways. For some, it will have been a welcomed rest and time out, a time to reconnect or reprioritise. Jobs ticked off that have been on the back burner for years and new things learned. Some will have struggled with working from home, home schooling and everyone being together 24/7. Difficult relationships and domestic situations may have exploded. For others, the resulting losses in so many ways will be devastating, isolation may have taken its toll or past traumas resurfaced. For me, the uncertainties of how our future household income might look like and having family overseas, has rocked my emotional boat some days. Just as this time will have for so many others.   

As we stood at the bottom of the rock wall and looked up, it looked formidable and unsurmountable, we also knew it was doable. We can and will get through this time in history, one thing for sure though –  it will be a very different path for everyone. It will take tenacity and courage as our vulnerabilities rise to the surface. 

This morning I reread the letter I wrote to myself on Outward Bound solo. It started like this:

Dear Robin

You had a blank canvas, the beginning of the next chapter, how has that chapter played out for you?

Something for me to ponder today as we work on how our business can be the best belayer possible for businesses, to help them build their wellbeing and resilience capabilities. So we can all live well, work well, and stay well. 

Kia Kaha – Be strong

Kia Maia – Be steadfast

Kia Manawanui – Be willing

Experience is not what happens to a person, it’s what a person does with what happens to him.

Aldous Huxley
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