case zip hor

The Fear of Plummeting from a Cloud Forest (and Updating a Website)

Case, fearless on the zip line course


If you share my fear of heights, you know the dizziness of standing next to a wall of windows several stories above ground. Or the gut-punch of finding yourself dangling atop a stalled Ferris wheel. At best, it’s unsettling. At worst, it’s harrowing.

Lately, I’ve experienced this type of fear in one of my professional roles: marketing. As someone who encourages others to “step into the discomfort”, I diligently analyze situations where I find myself wanting to choose the comfortable option, and look for the learning that will help me avoid it.

Discomfort is a tricky thing. Our brains are hardwired to let us know when a situation feels physically or emotionally unsafe. Sometimes the warnings serve us well; sometimes they don’t. In all cases, some simple reflection can help us determine what actions are in our best interest. For example:

Why am I afraid?
What do I lose by not doing this?
How could I respond?
Who do I want to be?

The scariest thing I almost never did
Several years ago, I went to Costa Rica with my husband and then 12-year-old daughter and five-year-old son. I carefully orchestrated a multi-region trip that included beach time, a catamaran sail, a volcano hike, horseback riding, and zip lining through the cloud forest. Of all the activities, zip lining was the one I was most excited for; yet, when I reached the launch platform, I panicked. After being assured the kids would be safe, I watched them zip away. My husband followed. And I froze.

I had survived the climb up the 100-foot-ladder, only to find myself in a physiological trap. With the high altitude exacerbating my racing heart and shallow breathing, I was stuck with two choices: climbing down in slow defeat or leaping toward the next platform in the course.

Why was I afraid?

What would I lose by not doing this?
Joining my family for a once in a lifetime experience

How could I respond?
Climb down (less risk/reward) or leap ahead (more risk/reward)

Who did I want to be?
The fun-loving adventurer (and also alive)

So of course I jumped, right? Not exactly.

The guide clipped my harness onto the zip line and told me it was time to go. I said, “I can’t”. And then he pushed me.

It. Was. Awesome.

How this relates to my new web site
Unlike zip lining, I have a lot of experience in marketing. I have served as a marketing assistant, a marketing coordinator, a marketing manager, a marketing consultant, and a marketing volunteer. I know how to write copy, plan campaigns, and architect information.

So what was the problem?
I enjoy the creativity, empathy, and analysis that effective marketing requires. What I don’t enjoy are the unavoidable assumptions, subjectivity, and limitations of a one-way message. This uneasiness is compounded by the vulnerability inherent in expressing one’s (professional) identity.

Why am I afraid?
My message might not resonate with everyone

What do I lose by not doing this?
An updated site that accurately conveys the Thrive Potential brand

How could I respond?
Do nothing (low risk/reward) or do my best to create a meaningful site (high risk/reward)

Who do I want to be?
Someone who models vulnerability, risk-taking, and continuous growth

Take a look for yourself
I was not pushed to update my website, though I did gladly receive some nudges along the way. It will continue to evolve, so please feel free to share any feedback on how you think I can make it better.

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