For every key I type there is a small sting in the "distal phalange" of my fingers. In other words, each and every joint in my fingers are aching. And you know what? For the story and team bonding experience that I am about to share—it is totally, absolutely, 100% worth it.
So, here’s the gravity of the situation. Before I was a master of fearing heights, I was a veteran of never turning down the opportunity to spend time with others. Part of having a detail oriented filter is this urge to learn more, from both myself and the people around me. So, who was I to say no, I don’t want to do this awesome thing that could potentially open my perspective? I said yes before I could remember what yes means and then spent the remainder of days dreading my amiable tendencies.
But I climbed. I climbed a fifteen-foot wall. A tanned fifteen-foot wall stapled with brightly colored stones, some in the shapes of dinosaurs—and others, just stones. I would soon come to identify these as holds. I learned the name as our instructor waved his hand along a path of said colored stones and said “each hold has a color grade and route.” He proceeded to explain that the color hold you start with helps determine your route for as far as you can go.
So, for example, you choose a green hold, you should ideally reach for nothing but more green holds. My mind has a detail oriented filter (as I’ve mentioned) so learning how much color and design is put into indoor climbing was pretty impressive. Some holds looked like flaming heads and some looked like turtle shells. However, color coded holds are not the part of this story that I will be detailing further. This was just an opener to explain how there’s so much more to climbing than a surface observation. What it takes to climb is courage, confidence, trust, and most of all, good teamwork because when you climb, you don’t climb alone. It takes teamwork. Yes. It takes two to climb.
Be the Belayer. Support Your Team.
To climb, there must be two people, each with a role and title. The first, naturally, is the climber. This is the one who embarks on a journey upward. The second, is the belayer. This lucky penny is responsible for pulling a rope connected to the climber as they climb.
The more rope the belayer has under their arms, the safer the journey down for the climber when they choose to descend. It sounds easy in theory, but in action, quite stressful, yet exceptionally rewarding. Being the belayer is being both a physical and mental cheerleader for the team. Each pull on the rope is a cheer of support for your colleagues. The more support given to your colleagues the quicker they can reach their goals and also recover from any fall.
Be The Climber. Trust Your Team.
As the climber, I constantly felt the rope of my harness pulling back, ensuring my safety as I slowly reached higher and higher. It was a noticeable pulling sensation at first and then it became a second thought as I continued to climb. Later I realized that was trust. Reaching ahead towards your goals without looking back but knowing there is someone there to help.
Of course, we all have our moments of doubt that suddenly come back full force. When I reached the top it happened, I froze and my mind went blank. There was nothing I could do alone because the next step for me was to lean away from the wall as if I was…. you guessed it, falling. Except I wouldn’t fall. The rope being pulled by my belayer slowly, safely reeled me down and I felt like a bird safely floating on a tree branch. It felt easy. With trust teamwork is easy. Though full disclosure, I didn’t lean back immediately after reaching the top, but after an experience of good sound teamwork, there will be no hesitation.
Be The Volunteer. Motivate Your Team
You already know, I wasn’t on board with climbing in the beginning and I probably would have never tried it on my own. But there was something that made me agree to try and that was the enthusiasm of my friend who asked me. My friend the volunteer. It was through their energy that I agreed to partake in an experience that would completely enhance the bond between us.
So what’s the message here? It’s to be the volunteer. Be the one who ventures and asks and occasionally dares. Rock climbing is not the obvious solution to stronger team building but it is a good example of those looking for new team building activities. From freeze tag to charades, there’s a chance you’ve played a game that tests the bond between you and your coworkers. While you may think the best way to enhance that bond is to keep playing the same game, the better solution is to instead try something completely new. New experiences and challenges help us improve our skills, so why not add “rock climber” to your team player description? It’ll surely stand out on any resume!