Financial Life Focus

How to clearly navigate your financial life

Life on the Zip Line

Coping with fear on the ground and above

While on vacation, I was confronted with the “opportunity” to try zip lining down a mountain ridge in Costa Rica. The zip line featured 12 platforms and traversed over 500 foot ravines, ending ever so gently at the resort in which we stayed. 

So let me get this right. I am going to strap on this harness, put a plastic helmet (that looks like it’s right out of Toys”R”Us) and fly through space from platform to platform with only a leather guide to slow-me-down? Riiiiighhhht!  I examined my bucket list to see whether zip lining was on it. Nope, not there. In fact, it wasn’t even on there and erased, as I held the list up to the light to check. So why? I asked myself, as the two Costa Rican guides hooked me up, tugging, and cinching buckles and straps. What was I thinking?  

The fact is, I was scared to death. But to be even more honest, I am scared every day at work too. Do I have what it takes today to bring the best of me to every client and staff interaction? Do I have what it takes to be a great husband, father, friend, colleague, and employer? Put that way, climbing the first platform was less daunting. I face fear everyday; this is just one more test.

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Flying through the air from station to station, I tried to remember my old business coach telling me, “Life as an entrepreneur is living on a slippery slope. When things slide—just hold on!”  There I was, with nothing but trees and rocks far below me and a thin wire above me and all I could do was hold on.

Fear and uncertainty—and sometimes outright terror—is not just for entrepreneurs, but for everyone who confronts challenges. We all face those moments. When just facing each day takes courage. 

We are constantly meeting new opportunities to retreat or forge forward. Maybe it’s saying no to your child’s request for a new gadget or your boss handing you a project that looks like it was written in a foreign language. Or maybe it’s figuring out how to pay the mountain of bills versus the mound of available cash. It’s all about courage and the decision to try.

Oh, and by the way…I made it down in one piece.

Michael F. Kay, a Certified Financial Planner, practitioner and a CPA, is president of the firm Financial Life Focus.

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