Hiking Yosemite's Half Dome

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There are certain experiences in life that forever transform who you are.

This was one of those experiences…

When I was invited to join a hiking trip to climb Half Dome in Yosemite National Park with my best girlfriends, I immediately replied with a “HELL YES”!

And then, my fear crept in…

You see, I have had an intense fear of heights my entire life.  Like most of our fears, there wasn’t an event or experience that triggered this intense fear. 

So through my journey of facing and overcoming my deepest, darkest fears, I’ve learned that there are only 2 types of fears in your life: rational and irrational fears.

Despite Skydiving, I still had an intense fear of heights.  So I viewed this hike as another opportunity to face my fear.

And the only way to truly face your fears is to do something that is a radical shock to your comfort zone.  Something that makes your knees shake, your palms sweat, and puts your heart in your throat.

So the challenge of climbing Half Dome became my Goliath.

Little did I know this climb would be a small part of a physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding 25 mile (18 hour) hike that would finish with 2 hours of hiking through the mountain forests in a pitch black night.

To no surprise, I walked away from this challenging experience with life lessons that can be applied to every area of my life.  Below are just a few…

1. Rational Fears Keep You Alive.  Irrational Fears Keep You From Living.

It’s far easier to run from your fears than it is to face your fears.  Most fears that hold us back are irrational.  They are not real.  Our fears keep us playing small inside our comfort zone.  Although it would have felt much better in the moment to back down from this climb, it would have been a decision to not truly live life to the fullest.

So how many times do you find yourself backing down from your fears?  Whether it’s avoiding an invitation to speak in front of a large group of people or telling your family that their plan for your life doesn’t serve you, these irrational fears keep you from living.  So consider next time your palms start to sweat or you feel your heart in your throat to leap forward and do that thing that scares you.

 

2. Being Fearlessly Fit Is Foundational To Creating An Epic Life.

It doesn’t matter how much money you have to travel the world in luxury if you don’t have the physical fitness to experience life changing adventures.  The majority of people who see Half Dome with their own two eyes are unable to climb it.  Not because of their fears, but because they aren’t fit enough to reach the top.

If you don’t have the stamina and strength to hike the Inca Trail or climb the Great Pyramids, then you’re missing out on life’s greatest adventures.  Adventure is a non-negotiable ingredient to creating an epic life.  So when you continue to postpone prioritizing your fitness, you are committing to living a boring life.

“I would rather be ashes than dust, a spark burnt out in a brilliant blaze than be stifled in dry rot…for man’s chief purpose is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them: I shall use my time.” – Jack London

3. Contain Your Fear Or Doubt And Lead Your Group With Confidence & Certainty

It was 8:30pm and the forest was getting dark.  Our group was physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted.  The blisters on our feet had now burst open as our socks became drenched with blood.  We had 5 miles left to reach our campsite and tensions were high.

As I led the group through the darkness, doubt arose as questions and concerns started to get voiced.  Did we take a wrong turn?  How would we protect ourselves if we came across a bear?  What if we were lost and had to sleep in the woods with no gear or protection?

As the group started to question me, I noticed I began to doubt myself.  About 2 hours into the night hike everything looked the same to us.  We didn’t recognize any landmarks from that morning.

It wasn’t the need to be right that caused unrest inside of me…rather it was the knowing that I was responsible for the lives of our group.

If I voiced any fear or doubt in that moment to the group, I would have been relieved as the leader.  We would have most likely turned around and started a new path.  Fortunately, I remained focused, expressed my certainty and confidence that we were on the right path, and got the group safely back to camp.

Whether it’s your family, co-workers, or teammates, you must act decisively and lead with confidence and certainty.  The moment you voice fear or doubt you lose the confidence of the group.  Fortunately we communicated clearly as a group and got back to our campsite safely around 11pm.

Remember that fear is an illusion.  It is an obstacle that can only be overcome through action.  Waiting to be without fear or doubt before taking action is not the answer.  Summoning the courage to act in spite of your fears, doubts, and limiting beliefs is the only path to becoming the Bad Ass you were born to be.

So what is one fear that you’re committed to overcoming in your life?  Please post a comment below so that the Fearless Fitness Tribe can hold you accountable to your greatness.

Live Your Life Fearlessly,
Alice