A few days ago I had the joy of taking my oldest son Larson rock climbing at Climb Nashville. We went as part of an adaptive rock climbing event put on by a great organization called Catalyst Sports. Although I only had one leg, I did not use it as an excuse to miss out on a great opportunity to introduce Larson to a new challenge.
Larson was so excited, as it was his first time climbing. He was so ecstatic because his favorite show is American Ninja Warrior. On the show they highlight many of the athletes training by rock climbing and similar exercises to increase their upper body and grip strength to be successful on the obstacle course.
I recently had a revision surgery on my amputated leg and cannot wear my prosthesis until it heals completely. I could have easily made excuses not to go at all or not to climb alongside my son. But I did not let it stop me.
We had a great time challenging each other by picking out a hold (or rock) to climb up to and see if the other one could climb up to it. The entire hour we spent climbing Larson would not go past a certain point. It was partly because his hands were getting tired but I think a lot of it was fear. I really wanted him get the satisfaction of climbing all the way to the top. So I challenged him to climb to the very top of the tallest wall in the section of the gym we were in. I tried to motivate him with an incentive of getting a Hot Wheels track he’s been wanting forever.
Several people had gathered at the far end of the gym where we where cheering Larson on as he attempted to conquer his fear and the wall. He was afraid and was telling himself, and me, that he couldn’t do it. I sat him down to have a little talk.
I said, “Larson, do you think your dad gets scared trying to climb up walls with just one foot? Well, I do. Although you might be afraid, you have to give yourself the chance and be willing to push though it. I could make endless excuses for not climbing today or not even coming to the gym at all. I’m extremely embarrassed and self conscience about not having my prosthesis on. I don’t like feeling like I’m “disabled.” But Larson, I came anyway today and I attempted climbing to the best of my ability. I don’t have to be the fasted or the most technical climber. What matters is that I’m out here trying. So I want you to recognize your fear and tell yourself you CAN do it. I know you have it in you to get to the top.”
The next thing you know “Mini-Me” was slowing scaling the tallest wall he’s ever seen. He systematically took one hold at a time and little by little he made his way to the top. Here’s a clip of him doing it.
I was so proud of my little guy for recognizing his fear, but facing it head on anyway. I firmly believe in leading by example. I try to the best I can to live my life in a way that models to my kids that even the most extreme challenges can be overcome. I am blessed for the opportunity to serve as a role model to my three amazing kids.
I challenge you right now to think of something you’re afraid of doing that you know you need to do. Now, take some kind of action right now to push through the anxiety and fear. You’re only truly alive when your living on the edge of your comfort zone. You CAN do it!