by Paul Casey

10 Life Lessons from my High Adventure Course Experience

There I was, looking up at the structure of ropes and logs and wires. I think it was about 60 feet high, but it could have been 100 for all I knew, standing beneath it. And they said it’d be fun. This will be a stretching experience, I told myself. Something to check off the bucket list. I was on vacation and this was the High Adventure Course. Let’s do it!

Whatever quest is the next one in front of you–new relationship, new business idea, new job or promotion, new change in your life–the lessons I learned on the course can also be ones you can apply to your endeavor.

  1. Fully commit. I told my daughter that I’d do the experience with her, and I paid the money to reserve my slot on the course. I was all-in. You can’t steal second base without taking your foot off first base. Declare your intention, and put some skin in the game.
  2. Draw off your support system. I got reassurance and cheerleading from the course staff from the moment I started to the moment I hit the ground at the end. My daughter and her best friend gave me Way-to-go’s for the 2 hours as well. A car honked its horn when I was at the highest point, and a bell was rung when I jumped off the platform to end the experience. I could call for STAFF! any time I was confused about how to move forward. Basically, change is easier when you have support alongside you. Who’s on your support team to encourage you to take your next step?
  3. Listen to the guardrails wisdom. Before climbing the stairs, I got the safety and procedures talk: how to clip and and clip out, how to dismount at the end. I was all ears, believe me. People have gone before you in whatever initiative you are moving towards. Read about their journey. Take them to lunch and ask questions. Do your research. Find out the pitfalls and how to avoid them.
  4. Trust the tried-and-true tools that you possess. I got very familiar with my harness and how it would support me. I learned that I could hang onto anything I could see, like the ever-present wire that ran from platform to platform. And I understood that I couldn’t really fall because of the fail-safes that had been designed. You, too, have your personal skillset and strengths to bring to bear on your change effort, and you can purchase other automations or guidebooks or equipment or methodologies that others have used to be successful.
  5. Ask for navigation advice. As soon as I got up to level 2, I asked the staff where the easiest place to start was. At other points of confusion, I called out for how to make it across an obstacle–and they even gave me “cheats” to assure my progress would continue. Who can you contact when you get stuck? A mentor? A coach? A wise friend?
  6. Make a plan. I sized up each path/obstacle before clipping off the platform and onto the wire. You can storyboard your goal, establishing baby steps to keep your vision clear. Set deadlines and don’t blow them off.
  7. Have a backup plan. I learned by experience that I couldn’t clip onto the new obstacle wire if the other clip wasn’t secured. While momentarily frustrating, it was reassuring. You will be moving forward and one day, something won’t go according to plan. What will you do? Yes, it’s frustrating to stall for a bit, but keep options open for a pivot, and you’ll be back on track.
  8. Don’t force it. While I liked the sound of the click by jamming my click-it into its home, I learned it’s simply a magnet and there’s no need to use force. It could actually damage the $500 piece of equipment. Sometimes in your journey, there will be a brick wall that you simply cannot smash through with your grit and perseverance because it isn’t meant to be. Don’t waste time with the square peg in the round hole.  Find the square hole. Think, What would this be like if it were easy?
  9. Be flexible.  Each platform introduced a new obstacle. I couldn’t use the same strategy exactly as I had on the previous obstacle. Nor can you. What got you this far won’t normally get you to the finish line. All you can count on is change. Blessed are the flexible for they will never be bent out of shape.
  10. Level up. With an hour to go, I had “mastered” level 2, and it was time to join my daughter up on level 3: 20 feet higher up. Why not? I pushed myself with more difficult obstacles and got through a bunch of them when time expired. Stretch yourself to new heights. Take a calculated risk. Make the call. Say YES to an opportunity. Hit SEND. Get your idea on the table. Often you’ll be successful. Other times, you will learn how to iterate on your original plan. Either way, you win.
  11. BONUS lesson: Take the leap of faith, and enjoy the view! When asked if I’d do the jump off level 3 instead of taking the stairs down, I said yes. Scary stuff, but I survived, the bell rang, and I was happy I had done it. C’mon, go for it! You will definitely go to a place you haven’t gone before, and there’s an adrenaline rush that accompanies your decision.

If I can be an encourager for you in the change you are thinking of pursuing, reach out for positive support in the form of coaching–or simply being in the Growing Forward tribe of people who want to achieve their highest potential. I’m at 


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