The whole point of the ILO is to encourage personal and professional growth by taking people out of their comfort zone. This weekend, I found myself as far away from my comfort zone as I could possibly be. I was on a trip to Semonkong with a group of Welsh teachers who have been in Lesotho for the last five months. Their aim was to complete the longest commercial abseil in the world as certified by the Guinness Book of Records. I was keen to visit so when I heard about the trip, I really wanted to join the group but didn’t think there was any way I would voluntarily walk off a cliff 204 meters from the ground.
When we arrived on Saturday morning, I immediately asked at the lodge if there was an alternative to the abseil. I was persuaded to take the training with the group and if still not comfortable, then I could do something else the next day. The problem I have is a fear of heights, or more accurately, a fear of falling from one so hanging from a rope is not really my dream activity.
The voice of reason was arguing that I should at least have a go so I decided my best strategy would be to do it without looking down. I allowed myself to be connected to the rope and started to walk backwards as instructed. About one step from the edge, I lost my nerve and tried to give up, however, the staff and the rest of our group gave me so much encouragement that I managed to dig deep and keep walking. I concentrated on taking one step at a time and tried not to look at how far off the ground I was. To my surprise, I really enjoyed it and just wanted to try it again to prove to myself that it wasn’t a one off. Each time, my confidence grew until I felt ready to try the big one.
Sleep was fitful on Saturday night as I started to feel the adrenaline pumping just at the thought of abseiling down the great Maletsunyane Falls. The day dawned and I started to prepare myself for the challenge ahead. By this point, the self-talk had changed from ‘I can’t do it’ to ‘I can do it’ and I was feeling nervous but calm as we reached the start point. When it was my turn, I approached the edge of the cliff. I was told that there was a stretch where the wall fell away and I would be hanging in mid-air and they also told me that when I reached this point I would probably swing around to face away from the rocks. When I realised this would happen right near the top I started to panic.Read more