Don’t be afraid to try new things was a constant theme in my house growing up. My parents encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone many times throughout my childhood. But, when given the opportunity would they practice what they preach? Absolutely.

My parents come to Indiana a few times each year and the last time they visited we went rock climbing at a local gym. My parents are in good shape. They have physical jobs and can lift a considerable about of weight. However, they are not outdoor enthusiasts. The closest they have come to rock climbing is the ladder they use to hang Christmas lights. Needless to say, I excitedly kept my phone camera close by to record the action!

But, what I came away with after the experience was so much more powerful than the pictures I took (although they still make me smile whenever I look at them, thanks mom and dad)

Step outside your comfort zone

I do not think my parents expected to be great at rock climbing, but they chose to try it.  I saw my mom’s face when she first saw the height of walls and it was a mix of “is it too late to get out of this” and “how did I get here?”  I saw myself in her expression.

I had the same feeling when I first graduated PT school and stared at my schedule on the first day.  I felt the same way during my first lecture when I stood in front of fifty 3rd year PT students as slide 1 of 64 flashed on the screen

Nothing great ever happens in your comfort zone and that uneasiness or fear is natural.  These feelings tell us that we are stretching farther than we ever have before.  If you feel relaxed and completely in control, you probably aren’t growing.

The beginning is the hardest

I’ve introduced many friends to rock climbing and it takes about 20-30 minutes to go through the intro class.  It took my parents nearly an hour.  In their defense, it must have been more difficult when your daughter is laughing hysterically with a camera in your face.  Despite my Dad’s difficulty getting clipped in and my Mom pulling up when she should have been pulling down, they finally got it.

The beginning is the hardest; embrace the learning curve.  I went to a course on spinal manipulation expecting to be a pro by the end.  The first day I did not get a single cavitation.  The beginning was tough, but eventually I improved. I no longer feel like I want to high five someone after I get a patient to cavitate.  Any challenging endeavor you undertake in your career is going to be hard in the beginning.  The important thing is to keep pushing and eventually it will get easier because you will get better.  

The joy is in the journey

I laughed harder than I had in awhile, watching my parents try to learn to climb.  The best part though was that I was laughing with them.  (I’m even laughing writing this).The way they embraced a difficult task that they weren’t yet good at was the most inspiring part of the whole night.  

We are often overly serious and too concerned with looking bad instead of getting better.  We lose the joy of learning and greatness of the journey because we are too concerned with getting to the end. Going forward, I hope I meet every new challenge like my parents did rock climbing.

Fall 7 times, stand up 8
The best part of this whole story is that both my parents climbed to the top of multiple walls.  Neither of my parents let the frustration learning something new stop them from continuing.  It is okay to feel challenged or overwhelmed, but don’t let this hinder your growth.  These are the best situations to learn from.

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