9 Ways ziplining is like escaping cubicle nation to start your own business

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This is a guest post from my long-time blog sister Glenda Watson-Hyatt.

You can read about our connection through her post below. I like to refer to her as the “Left Thumb Wonder,” since she writes using only her left thumb. As I mentioned in my presentation in Vancouver (hopefully I will have the video footage soon!), if we were to insure her left thumb, it would be worth more than JLo’s butt.

Glenda’s post:

rsz_dscn2302Like so many online relationships that then morph into dear friendships, getting to know Pam Slim (then Pam Stewart) began with one blog comment. The writer insider of her connected with the writer inside of me. One comment lead to a few more, then to email conversations, typically late at night, amidst writer’s angst with chocolate (in some form or another) close at hand. Our friendship grew until we were virtual sisters; like the sister I never had but wished I had.

Ever since her edgy, no holds barred “Open letter to CEOs, COOs, CIOs and CFOs across the corporate world”, I have watched my virtual sis on this skyrocketing trajectory as she frees lost souls from cubicle farm hell and supports them in finding their passion and true calling in life. And I couldn’t be prouder!

Finally, after four years, Pam and I met last week at Andrea Lee’s Wealthy Thought Leader event! Meeting her in my hometown of Vancouver made it only sweeter. And, of course, she kicked ass with her “I am Enough” presentation!

However, I could attend only one day of the event as I was recovering from a chest infection and had an once-in-lifetime opportunity planned for Saturday; not that meeting Pam wasn’t a precious opportunity, but she’d likely kicked my butt had I canceled my Saturday plans to hang out with her.

During the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, the most popular attraction was the zip line set up at Robson Square in downtown Vancouver. People stood in line for up to eight hours to ride the 550-foot long zip line 140 feet above the square, with traffic whizzing by below. Thanks to the universe evening out the score for my cerebral palsy, my friend Karen was able to book a zip line time for Saturday at 1:30 to avoid waiting in line.

Now one thing you need to know about me is I am absolutely, beyond any shadow of doubt terrified of open heights. Enclosed heights, but open heights – no way, no how! It ain’t going to happen! So, how I found myself 140 feet in the air, attached to little more than a clothesline totally baffles me. But, I did it and I survived!

Giving my experience much thought of the last week, I see how zip lining mirrors the process involved in escaping cubicle nation to start your own business:

1. Explore Curiosities
I had seen people zip lining before while at Robson Square for other Olympic and Paralympic festivities. I briefly ponder what it would be like; not that I would even consider do it, mind you! Although I did briefly muse whether the attraction was accessible, which prompted my friend Karen to investigate.

What makes you stop to think? What might you try if you had the opportunity?

2. Do Research
Once it was determined my childhood friend Karen, my cousin Craig and I were doing the zip line, I did a tiny bit of research online reading others’ experiences and viewing others’ photos. Arriving to Robson Square well before 1:30 on the fateful Saturday allowed me time to watch several other people zip across, giving me a sense of how it worked and what to expect; a sense of familiarity.

What research do you need to do or which questions do you need answered to feel confident in your choice?

3. Identify Mentors and Role Models
Several weeks before this I had watched the hilarious YouTube video of Rick Hansen bungee jumping in his wheelchair – not that I have any desires to bungee jump! A few days prior to my zip lining experience, I saw that former Vancouver mayor Sam Sullivan, who is quadriplegic, had done the zip line. If Rick can bungee jump and Sam can zip, then I can zip too!

Who inspires you? Who can you learn from or gain strength from while preparing to escape your cubicle?

4. Formulate a Plan
Karen, Craig and I figured out when and where to meet. Karen’s husband was volunteered to drive my electric scooter to the other end. How I was going to climb 81 stairs was determined at the bottom of the 140 foot tower and was tweaked as we ascended.

Planning a business takes more effort, but still may need adjusting along the way. The key is not to get bogged down in the planning; sometimes a simple business plan suffices.

5. Form a Support System
There’s no way Karen, Craig or I would have done this on own. Together, we did. Sometimes peer pressure is a good thing!

Who is your support system while transitioning from cubicle prisoner to entrepreneurial freedom?

6. Check the Safety Net
I understand perfectionists are losers! However, when I am about to jump off a 140 foot tower, I need to know that my harness is on perfectly and adjusted perfectly. Otherwise I could go splat on the traffic below.

Leaving the security of a job can be equally terrifying, unless your safety net is place. Go ahead and check and double check as long as you don’t become obsessive or too paralyzed with fear to jump.

7. Record Your Progress
Being an avid blogger, I wanted photos of everything. Not only do these photos allow me to share my experience with my readers, they also prove to me that I actually did what I thought I was too terrified to do.

How are you recording your progress? Your journey?

8. Take a Leap of Faith
After all of the preparation, the anticipation, the climbing of 81 stairs and despite being terrified, the time came when I had to go beyond my fears – and with a gentle nudge from zip line staff – and go zipping across 550 feet, 140 feet in the air! And what an amazing feeling that was – a sense of accomplishment, overflowing with pride and confidence in myself, and a new zest for pushing my boundaries.

When do you need to take your leap of faith: when walking into your employer’s office to respectful resign? When sharing your plan with your spouse and family? When turning on the OPEN sign for the first time? Even though your knees feel weak and your heart is racing, you have it within yourself to take the next step, to take that leap of faith.

9. Celebrate!
Once all three of us had safely made it across to the other side, there were high-fives all around. More high-fiving and hugging pursued when we reached our respective loved ones on the ground!
Be sure to celebrate each step along the journey of pursuing your passion and fulfilling your life’s purpose.

If you’re feeling stuck in your journey from cubicle prisoner to thriving entrepreneur, go zip lining! After that, nothing will seem impossible!

Glenda Watson Hyatt is the author of I’ll Do it Myself, an autobiography of her “life sentence” with Cerebral Palsy. She blogs about blurring the line between ability and disability at www.doitmyselfblog.com.

Thanks for sharing your brave adventure Glenda, and helping a lot of stuck cube warriors shake loose from their fears.

I will forever be in awe of  you my sister.

And given that we both have family roots back in Scotland, who knows, maybe there is a bit of blood relation in addition to blog relation. 🙂

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8 Responses to “9 Ways ziplining is like escaping cubicle nation to start your own business”

  1. Sandy, if you ever need a smack, a kick in the butt or a gentle nudge, you know where to find me. And I’d glad charge for it – as my side hustle! 😉

  2. Sandy Lipten says:

    Glenda, I’m grinning at what you said! “I’ve considered coaching a few times, but I’d likely smack people for creating their own barriers” — this makes you the exact coach I need! 🙂 Definitely a market for coaches who have no patience with self-created problems. Thanks for the smile!

  3. Pam, thanks so much for allowing me to share my terrifying yet exhilarating adventure with your readers. There’s no better way to face your fears than 140 feet in the air, hanging from a clothesline!

    As for our roots, according to Mom, the Marshalls (her Dad’s side from Edinburgh) had permission to wear the Stewart tartan. Perhaps we are really related, somewhere, somehow. Wouldn’t that be cool!

    Sandy, thanks for your kind words – and for subscribing! I’ve considered coaching a few times, but I’d likely smack people for creating their own barriers – not recommended practice for coaches! People are safer if I stick to the written word. 😉

    Annie, it’s so nice to hear you’ve read my book. Thank you. Keep searching for that thrill, you’ll be glad you found it.

    Fas, celebrate as often as needed to keep yourself heading in the right direction. Enjoy!

  4. […] What exactly is zip lining? And what does it have to do with starting your own business? Escape From Cubicle Nation […]

  5. fas says:

    I love the last point, can we start with it :p

  6. BizSugar.com says:

    9 Ways ziplining is like escaping cubicle nation to start your own business…

    This is a great inspiring post for anyone but especially for those who are starting a business. Enjoy. …

  7. Annie Binns says:

    Glenda / Pam:

    I’m so thrilled that you had this opportunity to meet in person. I, too, first became a Pam Stewart fan and it was through this blog that I was introduced to you, Glenda. I have your book by my bedside – a special place for a quick glance at the titles that inspire me and make me grateful for things I usually don’t think about, like the way I am able to type this note to you. I’ve tied myself to many zip lines but am still waiting for the thrill of the ride. Thank you for sharing with us what it feels like!


  8. Sandy Lipten says:

    Glenda, what a fun story to read — and what a great job you did with making it all a metaphor for taking a big leap in business! I went to your site, read a bit, subscribed, and clicked on Work with Glenda thinking you were a business coach or life coach — seems like you have an alternative career path in coaching if you ever decide you want one.

    Thanks for sharing this, Pam!