Founder Story: Push Your Boundaries
I went to a wedding near Salt Lake City a few years back. There was a facility there called Olympic Park. It was built when Salt Lake hosted the Winter Olympics, and they just kept it open ever since. Olympic Park still supported winter athletes as a training facility, but it doubled as an activity center for regular folks. You could swim in the pools, ride in a real bobsled down a bobsled track, navigate a ropes course, and climb a climbing wall.
But I’m not writing about any of those things. I’m writing about the innertube that you can take down a Nordic ski jump.
In the summer, when the ski jumps weren’t covered in snow, the Olympic Park converted them into a giant innertube slide. And when I say giant, I mean football field length. I mean when you were at the top, and you were looking at the person that just went down it, they looked like an ant. There were three slopes of increasing height and steepness. The steepest one looked like a 60-degree angle. When you stood at the top, you could swear it was pointed straight at the ground. We were told they used to let people go down the tallest one until last season, when for some inexplicable reason, they stopped.
You took a ski lift up to the top, and there was a pile of doughnut-shaped innertubes. There was hardly instructions except when someone told you, “Make sure the innertube is big enough for you, or else you’ll fly off.” But you weren’t left with any time for clarifying questions like, “How do I know if it’s big enough?” or “What happens if I fly off?”
Then you got in line. At the front of the line was a guy who kneeled down behind your innertube and pushed you, sending you down a steep slope, maybe to your death, but probably not. Then once it was clear, he pushed the next person. Then the next. Push. Push. Push. All day long, this guy’s job was sending people down this hill to what felt like their death. I remember the look on his face each time he did it. He seemed to get so much joy out of it.
I watched the people before me. As they slid down the hill, their doughnut rotated slowly so that during some parts of their journey, they’re actually going down the hill backwards. That was somehow even scarier to me.
It was my turn. When you stood at the top of this hill, and it curved over into this steep slope, it was so steep that there was a part of the ramp you couldn’t even see. As riders got to that part, they just sort of disappeared. I was as if you could be sliding into a giant hole, who’s to say.
I almost turned around and went back down the ski lift. 95% of me was saying, “Don’t do this, dude. This is a terrible idea! This is CRAZY.” Then there was this other 5% that was like, “This is how life works. If you turn around and you go back down on the ski lift, you miss it. You don’t come back here. You never experience what it’s like to go down this hill. To face and conquer that fear. And what’s worse, you’ll live the rest of your life knowing that you didn’t go through with it that day. That you let fear get in the way of adventure. You let safety get in the way of living an amazing life. So that you can get to your deathbed and know you lived a responsible and safe life, but at what cost?”
Okay, so the way down was absolutely terrifying, but not as terrifying as sitting at the top of that hill in a doughnut that’s hopefully the right size, in ANTICIPATION of getting pushed down that hill. In fact, there was another sensation besides terror. Ecstasy. It was actually really fun! And then a few seconds later, it was over.
I went back up the ski lift and did it a second time.
And that’s the way it works in life too. Sometimes, starting something will scare the crap out of you. But then once you get going, you realize it’s not so bad. In fact, it’s kind of nice. You grow into it, it becomes a part of you, and you become bigger and better. What was once scary is now normal, and you’re better for it. You become your own superhero.
So grab your tube. And when you get to the top of the hill, feel that fear, then do it anyway.