Leadership Lessons Diving off a Bridge

I jumped off the Bloukrans Bridge – Why you may ask ( my husband certainly did!) would a 55 year old feel the need to dance with danger? I am not overly adventurous, in fact I tend to be an over-thinker by nature so doing something this crazy needed to be for a very good reason! The Bloukrans bridge is the highest Bungee Bridge Jumping site in the world. A magnificent gorge spanned by a mighty bridge. 

To work authentically in the #consciousleadership space
means having an understanding of the holistic experience of leadership in the
4th Industrial revolution where leaders are working on the edge of fear, the
unknown which so often requires a leap into the unknown. So I challenged myself
to consciously choose to take the leap and make this learning more than just an
intellectual exercise, but rather one that touched body, mind and soul. Here was what I learned taking this leap of faith…

Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the embracing your vulnerability in the moment, it is not a blind leap it is a conscious one.

Speak the challenge into existence

When we make an intention concrete by articulating then we give the challenge for and substance. This helps to still the unspoken fear. So what I did is put a silly poll on Facebook which signaled my intention to follow through. By doing this it increases self-accountability. Knowing that I am a role model to others, it hopefully gives them encouragement to face their seemingly overwhelming challenges.

Calm to your inner self-talk

The inner self talk started as soon as I started having the gear put on. The voice inside my head was going into overdrive with questions like “are you friggin insane?” (a question that was echo’d by some friends and family). For the next half hour waiting for the group to assemble I could literally feel my inner conversation rebel so my conscious choice was to practice presence, to breathe, to still the inner anxiety actively reframing the inner dialogue to…“you can do this”.

Trust your guide

We had the most wonderful guide Vernon who went out of his way to make me feel comfortable. Explaining the safety procedures and keeping up a stream of banting and getting you to talk about yourself.   He took us down to the zip wire that would be our first introduction to the experience and talked us through the journey. It emphasized the value of having a fellow-traveler to help still the inner anxiety. By now I was focusing on breathing and concentrating on the beauty of the gorge below the bridge to keep my mind off the jump.

Take advantage of a trial run

The zip-line to the bridge was the equivalent a “base camp” experience. As you push off from the launchpad I could feel the first hit of adrenalin as I could feel the vastness of the space of the gorge. I could feel the anxiety starting to rise and having to remind myself to take one step at a time. I took several deep “tummy” breathes and reminded myself to enjoy the moment..

Surround yourself with a great team

In times of extreme stress, change or risk having the right team around you is essential. From the moment we suited up, to when we arrived on the bridge, the team were superb. Each called you by name, making you feel that YOU matter. As you were clipped onto the zipline that gave you the first adrenaline rush and a taste of what was to come, they assured you by explaining the safety procedure and were there to take you to safety on the other side. They went out of their way to assure you of their expertise and caring – taking care of the head and the heart – and then provided pumping music that keeps the positive energy alive.

Focus on the WHY

As the moment got closer, the more important it was to focus. As they were strapping me up, one of the team asking me about my work in leadership and asked what I thought was the most important thing that would make this jump successful? My first reply was “to believe that you can…”. For me this was about understanding the point of choice and what our body, mind and spirit experience is as we go through it.

Face the Fear

For me, the greatest fear was not as I jumped but rather the minutes before as I shuffled closer to the edge of the abyss. In was in those moments that I realized that this is our crucial moment of choice. It is at this point we so often back off and take the safe path. Recognising this moment of truth is the key to taking the plunge. Having two capable and supportive guides at this moment was invaluable and together we counted down and I dived over the edge…

Expect the Unexpected

In anticipating the jump, I was convinced that the worst moments would be between the bridge and the time when bungee chord reached its limit where I would feel completely out of control and that time would slow down. After the first rush you feel the chord jerk around your ankles and once you realise you aren’t going to slip out of your shoes you have the opportunity to savour the moment and the increased adrenalin in your system makes everything just seem a little sharper. And you give yourself the opportunity to savour the moment. I felt a huge sense of achievement as I walked up to the centre where my husband had proudly bought me the T-Shirt and was there to greet me with a hug. (my very own cheering section). 

As I think about the challenges I face in business, breaking into the global market and taking on new challenges, I am a little more confident and aware of what is possible. When I speak about taking up the challenges of the future world of work, I can do it with a little more authenticity. Fortune favours the Brave!

Bev stimulates the vital conversations that empower you to thrive in the future world of work. She uses her deep understanding of conversational intelligence to build, trust, accountability and inclusive leadership into every conversation and – to align purpose, strategy, culture and leadership with employee and customer experience.  So if you are not thriving it is time to… CHANGE THE CONVERSATION.