By Michael Gunther

Have you ever looked back on a goal and realized that that once seemingly insurmountable first step, in hindsight, looks pretty easy?

I was recently on a trip in Kauai and had the opportunity to go zip lining at Princeville Ranch Adventures. I have always wanted to try zip lining, but my partner Steve has been less than enthusiastic about this activity primarily due to his fear of heights.  Being the supportive spouse that I am, I started in with the “face your fear” speech – “the only way through a fear is to push forward through it,” etc.

So, on a bright Saturday morning we pulled up to the compound where we signed in, got our gear, and met our guides and fellow zip liners. There was a mix of anxiety and excitement within the group over the upcoming experience. None of us truly knew what to expect except that we had just signed a waiver releasing the organization from any harm that may come to us during this three hour event.

The preparation for the adventure was pretty involved. Safety had to be first, so the guides weighed us, discussed the dos and the don’ts on the lines and made sure we had plenty of water. They then proceeded to get us geared up – helmets, safety harnesses and carabiners. Through introductions, humor and levity the guides made fast work of bringing together the group. They had us laughing and encouraging one another before we had even to gotten to the course.

Our guides Ben and Mark led us to the first platform, from which we were expected to jump off and fly one hundred feet to the next platform. While this didn’t sound like a long distance, most of us looked at that hundred feet and saw a thousand feet. The jump looked long and the anxiety of the group rose as the guides demonstrated how they would hook us up to the metal cable and explained how we should run off the platform and land on the other side. No one volunteered to go first. With some coaxing from Ben, someone finally raised their hand to go first. Even my bravado about how easy this was going to be had become less vocal at the sight of our first jump.

Before I knew it, we were zip lining through the forest and over the valleys of Kauai. Our guides were continually checking our mental well-being and double-checking all of the security procedures with our group. They kept the humor high and the spirit of adventure even higher. So when we got to our 9th and final zip line platform, humorously called ‘King Kong,” our adventure spirit was palpable. We had to climb up a thirty-foot platform and zip line 1200 feet over a two hundred foot deep valley. In addition, we were going to be racing with another zip liner – we were jumping two at a time.

By this leg of the course, we had become experienced zip liners. We could jump with laughter and using only one hand. We were taught how to go faster and not a single person had an issue landing or making it through the course. Our confidence was high.

After the successful completion of the course and with our adrenaline running high, Ben pointed back to that first, one hundred foot leg of the course. The length, the angle of drop, it all looked so easy – a bunny slope next to what we had been doing. It was basically on the side of these two mounds. We all started laughing as we thought back to how we had felt when we began this journey and how huge that first step had seemed. With practice, good leadership and perseverance, we were able to accomplish so much more than that first leg of the course, which at the time seemed so overwhelming.


Bottom Line

This experience reminds me of moving forward in a new direction or with new goals within a business. The first step is usually the hardest because you are entering uncharted territory. But with good leadership, a solid plan, humor and a drive to move forward, the steps get easier and before you know it, you are accomplishing larger things than you ever thought possible.

Often in looking back, that first step doesn’t seem as hard as it did right before you took it. So press forward and take that first step in your next goal or challenge and be on your way to new heights of performance.

As a side note, Steve thought it was great, faced his fear and wants to try zip lining again.

This is another article in a series on Michael’s entrepreneurial story and how being raised in a large family has influenced his career. To read the previous articles in this series, visit his blog at

Michael Gunther is Founder and President of Collaboration LLC, a team of highly skilled business professionals who are dedicated to assisting proactive business owners to build profitable, sustainable businesses through results-oriented education and consulting services. Learn more at

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