Thursday, July 12, 2012

May I Lean?

A ropes course? Excuse me, I don't remember signing up for this.

My international girls!
The second half of the Leadership Institute drove 45 minutes to Bristol for the ropes course. This was going to be my very first ropes course experience and I didn't know what to expect of it! Maybe I was actually more nervous about the possibility of getting the Lyme Disease. Despite of the heat, a lot of us wore long pants, high socks, sleeved shirts, and layers of bug spray to top it off. Ticks are not something to joke about (in my book, anyway). We were also given anti-bug bandanas for our arms and legs, just like something I'd see on reality TV. 

My Women and Leadership class broke up into two groups: Team Amazing and Team Fantastic. It was no question that I ended up in Team Amazing. Diane, our facilitator, led us through several ice breakers and trust exercises to further prepare us for today's challenges. It really helped me because I generally have trust issues. We were then taught the phrases of the day. "Spotter ready?" "Ready!" "May I lean?" "Lean Away!" The first time we practiced this was during the Trust Game. My partner was Emily so I think it was much easier to trust her, but I was still a bit worried that she wouldn't catch me. I'm sure she felt the same. Nonetheless, we successfully caught each other after many falls. After an hour of doing this type of training, I became more excited than nervous about the whole thing.

Team Amazing endured through four courses: the bridge, the spiderweb, the tight rope, and the wall! I personally struggled with the tight rope activity the most because I don't have a sense of balance. At all. This activity involved leaning on a partner and trusting that they won't let me fall while balancing on opposite tight ropes. I definitely expressed my weaknesses in both balance and trust here. Fortunately for me, no one was forcing me to go any further. I truly appreciated the Challenge by Choice Policy, which allowed me to push myself out of my comfort zone but at the same time respected my limitations. 

I really put myself down after this exercise. I felt like a failure. I was then determined to overcome the last course, which is also not an easy thing to do, specially with my serious fear of heights in open spaces. The objective was to make it over a wall. Seemed easy at first... until we found out that the wall was flat. Our cooperation, teamwork, trust, and leadership skills were put to test. I was quite hesitant to risk myself, but I took a leap of faith and decided that it was finally my turn to go. "Spotters ready?" "Ready!" "May I be lifted?" "Lift away!" And so I was lifted away. Diane, Molly, and Jackie instantly grabbed my hands and feet from the other side of the wall and helped me over. Once I was safe and over, all I heard was a bunch of applauding and cheering. I now look down at my fear of heights. Just like many others, I felt a strong sense of pride within myself.

Oh, it's no biggie.
The ropes course was such an uplifting experience -- literally. Although the obstacles were hard to face,  my group yet again strived by supporting each other along the way. I believe trust was the biggest lesson of the day. Last night, I developed an emotional connection with every person. Today our bond grew stronger because we learned to trust one another not only emotionally but also physically. 

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