It seems like people fall into one of two categories when it comes to new experiences: toe-dippers who like to ease into the adventure or jumpers.
I had the awesome opportunity to zipline in Austin yesterday thanks to the generosity of my friend, Kay. It. Was. Amazing. First of all, I have never witnessed a tourist/adventure/entertainment company that is so well run and managed. I appreciated everything from the design, to the customer service to the efficiency with which they operate.
I’ve been ziplining before in the Caribbean. It was interesting to compare the experiences. The runs in the Caribbean were designed so that you had to climb up rickety platforms, navigate narrow ledges while ducking under branches and finally take a leap of faith by jumping from a deck 80 feet or more above the ground. Lake Travis Zipline was much different. A trail led from launch site to launch site. Each platform was large, sturdy and had plenty of decking around the launch site. Even though the runs were much longer (including one that is over 2800 feet) and higher (up to 20 stories), you never felt like you were forced to leap. They designed their facility with the toe-dippers in mind.
It started with two “bunny” runs that ran fairly close to the ground. This let you get comfortable with the equipment and the sensation.
Their innovative braking system also facilitated ease; the guides braked for you so all you had to do was place your feet down when you arrived at a platform. This meant that you could fully be in the moment along the run instead of trying to perform the complex calculations based upon your weight, the wind speed and direction and the slackness in the line to try to figure out the optimum time to brake yourself.
Ever the social observer, I found it interesting to compare how people responded to the different designs. In the Caribbean, there were several people who panicked on the first run and never really improved. They had to be soothed and cajoled at every jump since their mind was sending out alert signals. Lake Travis Zipline could not have been more different. There was one woman in our group (no, not me!) who was very nervous prior to initial launch. She hung back, watching each person go ahead of her on the first training line. By the time she completed that run herself, she had a huge smile and was not hesitant again. All she needed was a little support and structure to be ready to take a risk.
We can be toe-dippers or jumpers at times, depending upon the situation. I tend towards the dipping in most physical pursuits (yeah, and I’m going skydiving – yikes!) and yet I am a jumper in many other areas. Brock is a full-on jumper physically yet dips his toes into emotional situations. One is not better than the other or more “right.” When dippers are given encouragement and are made to feel safe in increments, they can be willing to take the same risks as their more impulsive brethren, they just may take longer to get there.
If you find yourself fearful of a situation, think about what you can do to ease yourself in. Don’t worry about the last run that is 200 feet high; tackle the bunny line first. Learn to trust in increments and allow yourself to be comfortable at one stage before you move to the next. If you’re trying to help a toe-dipper, know that pushing too much will backfire and cause them to freeze. Work with their fear and teach them to move through it in stages.A nudge works better than a push!
With the right supports, fear can disappear. The run yesterday was so well designed that I, a self-proclaimed dipper, never even felt a twinge of nervousness.
You don’t have to jump to have the experience (okay, except for skydiving!). Build a ramp and ease your way in. Before you know it, you’ll be flying high!:)