Silos, Ladders, and the First Step

Impossible Shoot

Last week, we did the first photo shoot since we launched Impossible HQ. I’ve been in the midst of an incredible fitness regimen as I knock another thing off my impossible list so we decided to do a fitness shoot to celebrate. The focus is “no excuses, no equipment, just results” so we wanted to find an empty warehouse to reflect those themes throughout the shoot.

Over the last few weeks, I searched for abandoned warehouses and buildings where we could do one. It took me a while, but I found one…100-150 feet up in the air – on top of the grain silos pictured above. Somehow I convinced Jeff and Marla at six4eleven to climb up over 100 feet vertically on a 100 year old ladder and get to the top to do the shoot (apparently I’m all sorts of persuasive). That was the easy part. We spent the next few hours exploring, working out and taking some photos for the shoot – it all went spectacularly.

Then we had to come down…

To get back down, you have to lower yourself through the manhole onto the ladder in the middle of the silo. Coming up, it isn’t too hard, you sort of just walk your way up, but coming down is an entirely different story. You can’t quite  just sit down and reach the ladder with your feet – you have to stretch out and lower yourself down without any rail, handle or rung to hold on to other than the manhole you’re going through. And while you can almost reach the ladder, there’s a split second – where you have to let go of the floor and the manhole and whatever you’re holding onto and grab the ladder.

It’s probably less than a 1/4 of a second, but it seems like forever – where you leave your current position of comfort on the concrete slab 150 feet in the air and take a leap of faith and hope you grab on to the ladder rather than falling to your death. It doesn’t matter how short that split second actually lasts, all you know is that it’s full of terror and it seems like forever. So you spend a lot of time looking at the ladder, contemplating the possibilities…

  • What if you fail?
  • What if you slip?
  • What if you miss the ladder?
  • What if you fall down 100 feet in a grain silo and fall smash into a bunch of unsightly human parts in front of your friends?
  • What if?

And then you go – and as let go, it’s terrifying…absolutely terrifying…

…until you grab the ladder.

Then it’s only slightly terrifying. You’re no longer “safe” on your platform and you’re not “safe” on the ground yet, but at least you have a path to follow – a guide to get down. And instead of worrying about dying and smashing into a thousand little Joel-pieces, you focus on climbing the ladder – rung by rung. Step by step. Action after action. Instead of climbing a 100 foot ladder, you’re climbing a 1 foot rung – 100 times. 1 rung at a time.

And it’s not so scary. It’s not so impossible. You climb down the ladder and you do it.

But no matter how many times you do it, that first step is always scary. Always. Whether you’re jumping off a bridge, taking cold showers or climbing down a ladder after a photoshoot at a 100 year old abandoned building – that little terror is there. Always. It can get easier, but it’s still always there. And that’s a good thing – because the presence of fear allows you to become courageous and overcome it.

“Courage is the complement of fear. A man who is fearless cannot be courageous [He is also a fool.].” - Robert Heinlein

As you test your limits, you start to see that same fear everywhere. That same reflex mechanism, that same part of your brain, that same resistance trying to stop you from what you want to do. You can’t stop it – but you can train it to recognize that stupid little fear that keeps you from climbing and doing the things you want to do. You can learn to become courageous, overcome it consistently and never let it stop you from doing something you need to do.

That first step is always the toughest, but it’s also the most important so take as much time as you need - but take it.

If you want to make that first step and get “unstuck”, Cold Shower Therapy can help you do just that. Registration closes tonight at midnight PST. After that, we close it down and CST starts Friday. #BOOM

photo credit: Jeff Sarris on his iPhone. Seriously, if you need photography done, check out six4eleven. They’ll climb 100 foot ladders and risk smashing into little-six4eleven-pieces for you to get the right shot :). Oh, and the photos from the shoot are coming soon.

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Comments

  1. Rita says

    I got goosebumps reading this. And I’ll admit…I felt a bit nauseous. I like what you said about “one rung at a time”…100 foot ladder, one rung at a time. We forget that part and tend to focus on the 100 feet. Thanks for that reminder.

  2. says

    Great post, Joel!

    I’m always a fan of finding the little things that make us grow. That 1/4 of a second brings you that much closer to “leveling up”, to put it in nerd speak. The more we look for these experiences, the easier it becomes to be fulfilled in life.

    -Ben

  3. Kelley says

    Awesome, awesome, awesome post! The courage-fear quote by Robert Heinlein is my new fav. Looking forward (or not) to CST!!!

  4. says

    Freaking Awesome Post Joel,

    Fear is fascinating to me because we are physiologically developed to avoid fear. In order to survive dangerous situations our brain shoots out warnings to us and we are supposed to listen.

    But the problem is that our brain overreacts and is often wrong. If we want to go out and do awesome things with our lives we have to not only face fears but at times actively pursue our fears.

    I think this is my favorite thing about training in martial arts. It teaches me how to deal with fear. I know that if I lose my concentration, get distracted, or give only 50 percent I am dramatically upping my chances for injury. I love intense martial arts training because I get to practice conquering my fears. Sometimes I get hurt, I mess up all the time. But no matter what I always get back up.

    Fear is a crazy concept man… Crazy :)

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Silos, Ladders, And The First Step No matter how many times you do it, that first step is always scary. Always. Whether you’re jumping off a bridge, taking cold showers or climbing down a ladder after a photoshoot at a 100 year old abandoned building – that little terror is there. Always. It can get easier, but it’s still always there. And that’s a good thing – because the presence of fear allows you to become courageous and overcome it. [...]

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