Jumping the Pole

by | Aug 19, 2019 | Leadership

In the late 90’s I went to America for a weeklong workshop. Along with the lectures were a series of activities designed to stretch your physical and mental capabilities.

The challenge of all challenges was “Jumping the Pole.” The “pole” was a 100ft (30m) telegraph pole that sat loosely in the ground, allowing it to move from side to side.

The test – should you accept it – was to climb the moving pole, then, while being part contortionist, part daredevil, manoeuvre yourself slowly to the standing position at the top of the wobbly stick. Once the nerves had calmed you were encouraged to launch yourself into the air and plummet to within metres of the ground before being pulled to an abrupt halt by the safety line.

For several nights prior to the day of the challenge I would go and stare at the pole and wonder how I would ever muster the courage to tackle it. Night after night I would continue to stare, gradually convincing myself that it was achievable. I imagined standing on top of the pole, confident and fearless. Then all I had to do was to stay focused and be brave.

The day came. I found the courage and managed the nerves. Inch-by-inch I made my way to the top, and with shaking legs, gradually stood on that wobbly stick. After taking in the view, I dug deep for every ounce of trust I had, closed my eyes and fell to the ground landing safely.

The Lesson? For a long time I would tell people about my heroic experience in every detail. I missed the point; my ego had got in the way. It was only years later that the real lesson was revealed. If I had just applied what I learnt that day and focused on the feeling of courage, confidence and fearlessness then most future obstacles would fade away.

Thank goodness they now have.

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