Did you know to “risk” means “ to expose someone or something valued to danger, harm, or loss”? Ouch. Doesn’t sound too desirable, so why would you want to risk something anyway?

Risk is a choice many of my Executive Coaching clients make to get to their next level. Maybe you are considering a new venture or a significant change. Perhaps you are longing for something better, but the status quo is holding you back. Would stepping out be too risky for you? Would it cost too much? What if you fail? What if you succeed?

Can I tell you a story about a recent summer vacation experience I had with risk?

It’s a tale about deciding to push through to a new perspective, and the various emotions and realizations I experienced along the way. I’ve included coaching questions sprinkled throughout my story to spur your awareness and encourage you to keep climbing, whatever new perspective you are seeking.

So, here’s my story. We’ve vacationed in the Outer Banks every summer for years. It’s an extended family affair, with literally dozens of family members residing together in a rental home for a week. Lots of food, fun, sunshine and walks to the beach. Through the years, it’s become predictable, and it’s always enjoyable.

Except, we’d never climbed the lighthouse.

This opportunity was always available, the lighthouse just a half mile from the neighborhood where we stayed. Easy to get to, have a snack, and climb up to the top. What a fun trip – others have done it, why not us?

Except, I didn’t want to climb it. Too risky, too dangerous with the kids, and too much exertion. Nice to see a panoramic view, and a new view of the beach – but probably not worth the effort. Maybe next year.

But this summer the consensus of the family was, “We are doing the lighthouse this year”. And surprisingly, I found myself somewhat willing to go. The deciding factor was one of the children saying to me, “Come on, it will be worth it when we get to the top”. I agreed, thinking, “Yes, maybe this is good idea for all of us. The kids are old enough. I’ve been getting in shape, so I can probably do the stairs. Let’s do it. Let’s make a memory!” The reward outweighed the risk for me – for the first time.

What important desire, or goal is again making itself known to you?  How will you know you are ready to explore it?

We arrived at the base of the lighthouse, all excited and ready to get to the top to see the panoramic view. I was warming up to the experience and was able to push back my fears, to go with the flow of the enthusiasm of my very convincing family members.

Until we got to the registration table and were surprised.

The elderly volunteer greeted us warmly and pushed some forms across the table for us to sign. “These are your wavers. Please sign them, then you can climb up”. I agreed to the stipulations that the lighthouse was old. Because it was created before modern building codes were in place, it could be considered unsafe. We would climb at our own risk. I was somewhat unnerved, but I said “yes” and put it in writing.

As you push through risk to get to your desired goal, how can you prepare yourself for unexpected fears that might surface?

Now I was committed.

The children raced ahead to the entrance of the lighthouse, and we all began our ascent. Ten steps, twenty, and then forty steps to the first landing. That wasn’t too hard. I asked someone, “How many steps to the top?” and heard the reply “220 steps to the top”. Ouch.

I had a choice at that moment. Turn back or re-commit to the whole journey.

How can you help yourself envision how it will feel when you push through barriers and experience positive momentum?

We kept going. Let me say I had to readjust my timeline on how fast I could realistically make it to the top. It was a different pace than I first expected. Two family members stayed and chatted with me when I needed to catch my breath. We celebrated our incremental progress, always looking up the spiral staircase to see the light at the top. We laughed about our stamina and congratulated ourselves for the stair count we had already achieved.

Who do you have in your corner that can help you as you press through out of the status quo to your stretch goal? How will you celebrate your progress along the way?

Before too long the spiral staircase narrowed and narrowed as we climbed higher, and the entrance at ground level seemed far away. We arrived at our destination and walked around the tiny circular walkway at the top. Beautiful. Breathtaking…in a good way!

What we saw was a different world than the one we had left an hour ago. Our field of view was enlarged, we saw houses we had stayed at for years and where they were in relation to one another. We saw new beauty and new possibilities.

We had our new perspective, the panoramic view that only could be achieved from the top of the lighthouse. We also had the realization that we had pushed through a risk and made a memory together. In fact, from our new perspective we saw where we wanted to go next. Much more seemed possible. We savored the moment. As we made our way down the staircase, we started making plans for our next adventure.

What will you be able feel or know after you take a risk, that you can’t feel or know now?

So, that’s my summer story of “The 220 Steps”. I hope it encourages you to listen to your desires, take a real risk, pay attention to your journey, and celebrate your accomplishment when you “get to the top”.

Let me know how I can help, www.mcwhertercoaching.com.

photo credit: https://obcinc.org/visit-our-sites/currituck-beach-lighthouse