Two weeks after I started my consulting company, I began conquering my fear of heights at Inner Peaks, an indoor rock climbing facility in Charlotte. One of my business colleagues, a scientist with big dreams like mine, asked me to be his climbing buddy and crazily enough I said yes.

I’ve always been TERRIFIED of heights. And not in a normal way. Like, in a standing-by-a-railing-makes-me-scared way. I was the kid in elementary school who would climb to the top of the slide and then have to shimmy my way down the ladder because I couldn’t for the life of me push off and go down the proper way. And I didn’t care that all the kids were laughing. I was that scared.

The first week rock climbing was pretty hilarious. Its amazing that Justin is still my friend. I was all ready to go. Yoga pants, climbing shoes, chalk, and I walked over to the first wall, where there are about 15 plastic rocks up a wall that you have to climb, freestyle, no ropes. Its about as high as my bedroom ceiling.

I went halfway up and then started panicking. “Justin! I’m gonna die!”

Amazingly enough, he did not laugh at me. “No, just jump off and land on this nice soft cushiony floor! It won’t even hurt!”

I hyperventilated for a few minutes, clinging to the rocks. “No really I’m gonna die!”

He eventually helped me down.

“How far did I go?” I asked, hoping to hear a good 20 feet or something.

He looked at my with that “poor kid” face. “About 5 feet.”


But I got better. Each day (and I go 3-4 times a week), I conqueed  another rock and got a little less terrified.

And then one week, I finally climbed over a wall to the walkway on the other side.

It took me about 15 tries. But I’m an entrepreneur, dammit! I never quit! I chalked up my hands, stared that mother down, and climbed, fell, climbed, fell, climbed, got too high for comfort and fell down again in shame.

“You were so close!” Justin said, looking bummed out for me.

My face was filled with determination. I knew my problem. I was scared of the height I was trying to reach. I had to conquer that first.

“Take me back up on the ropes,” I said firmly.

We walked over to the rope climbing wall and I started up. I began to shakily climb to a height that a month earlier would have been considered completely preposterous for me.

“Distract me!” I yelled as I felt my fear returning.

“Remember that client that you finally won over? Tell me about that project!” he yelled.

So I started yelling down to him about work, and got so into my conversation that I climbed higher than ever before. Of course, then I suddenly realized how high I was, panicked, and screamed for him to let me down.

But I had already won. I had reached a new height. Promptly, we went back down to the floor and I walked over to the wall that had scared me only 10 minutes early, and climbed it faster than lightening. Sure, at the top, when I grabbed onto the railing I was wailing like a baby and screaming the F word a lot. But Justin talked me over it and I made it.

I felt like a million dollars.

You’ve now learned how hard it can be to be a normal entrepreneur. Despite what viral videos and TV shows want you to think, there’s no shortcut. Just lots of bumps and bruises and hard, hard work. But there are many times that we feel like a million dollars. That is how conquering the business world should feel. We each start out as young entrepreneurs, with no upper body strength and no courage, and step by step, we learn the path and work our muscles until it feels just right. And then, we go to level 2, and level 3, and level 4. Always pushing ourselves, we never stop. We keep going, challenging new muscles, new rock paths, harder hand holds and foot holds. We never give up and never get lazy.

And it feels like a million dollars.

I went in again the next week and tackled a new wall. When I finally made it to the top of it, I sat there trying to breathe. My mind is crazy. What if there was an earthquake and I fell? What if zombies showed up and I fell? What if I let go of the railing and I fell? I clearly have trust issues with heights.

Being an entrepreneur means constantly overcoming bigger and bigger hurdles. Mine started with learning how to shoot a basketball photo for a cover of a magazine with NO sports OR photography experience and moved to how to  not cry when the president of the chamber of commerce yelled a me for not bringing the “magical non invented 2005 internet box” with me to a meeting. It moved into how to survive a housing market crash while branding a bunch of realtor websites, and then how to overcome complete failure in a marriage while trying to start a new business. Then it turned into how to handle startups falling apart, and how to fight through and keep them duct-taped together. When to quit and when to fight. Each rock wall is harder. It always starts out seeming impossible, but it ends with you sitting on the top wondering how you got there and secretly hoping no earthquake will send you tumbling back down. Because every so often zombies appear during the game of business.

Right now, I am trying to fight my way into AI and then the space travel business. And don’t act surprised. Who doesn’t want to end up in Outer Space? It’s the most impossible goal I’ve ever had. That’s why instead of giving up, I want to get “Defy Gravity” tattooed on my arm. It’s already my license plate. So now I can’t give up or it would just be embarrassing. Just like when you’ve climbed too far and your only choice is to keep going.

And here’s a picture of me, last month, 5 months after I was clinging to a wall pathetically, about to climb one of the most terrifying ropes courses at the White Water Center. (And I lived.)

So think of your goals this way: The goal in your mind right now is not your final destination. Unless you’re one hundred years old and your last goal is like, skydiving. In which case, let’s talk, because you’re clearly the most awesome human. Otherwise, don’t think you’re getting out so easy. You have many more mountains to climb my friend. You just THINK the one you’re climbing is the biggest.

Use my stories to get over this hill. And then read it again to get over the next one.

Anything is possible.