Breaking Through: A Story of How I Overcame my Fear of Heights



In January, I led the 2nd annual leadership and success retreat amongst several motivated friends who all had the same common goal, continuing to be more successful in all areas of life.

One of the core characteristics I wanted to continue to develop in myself was risk taking.  Not risk taking in the sense of recklessness, but rather pushing through comfort zones, taking the risks that are necessary to be successful.

One of the 7 common denominators of successful people is risk taking.

Risk taking isn’t just something you do in business or some of the time, it’s who you are.  Like any trait, skill or characteristic, it can be developed.  Some people are born with it or learn it at a very early age.  For me, it’s something I’m still continuing to develop.

Prior to my venture into rock climbing, you would hardly catch me climbing up a 6 ft ladder.  I was extremely afraid of heights.  Ever since falling out of a 20 ft tree as a kid and thinking I was paralyzed, this fear has held me back.

It went so far as to prevent from my flying.  After braving an airplane ride to Austin, TX in April, I decided enough was enough.  It’s time to man up and conquer this fear.

I didn’t know how I was going to do it and quite frankly, I was surprised at how quickly I did it.


The first step was to follow the lead of several friends who had gotten into rock climbing.  Let me tell you, the idea of climbing up a 40 ft wall, trusting a rope and the person holding the rope was terrifying.  But I did it anyways.

My first time out was a challenge.  I climbed 15 feet,  panicked and would have to come down.  Nothing is more humbling than being a 245 lbs former football player who freaks out 15 feet up and then seeing a 7-year-old kid climb right by me fearlessly.

I didn’t let this get me down, my goal was to test my fear.  Mission accomplished!

Going into this, I knew I would have to be patient and accept small steps in personal growth.

My 2nd time out I climbed 20 feet.  It was only 5 feet more.  I was a little disappointed but I told myself, I increased my output by 33% and pushed through another mental barrier.

At this point, I had learned to trust the rope and trust the person holding me.  I just had to muster up the courage to go to the top.

Halfway up the 2nd highest wall, I felt that panic creeping in.  Not again.  The temptation was there, to just give up.  If I give up this time, in this area, how many other times and in other more important areas, would I give up on myself?  I told myself, 1 more step and then I would see how it felt.  I pushed through.  That next step lead to another which lead to another and eventually, I reached the top.

This was a big event for me.  Not just reaching the top but rather I had pushed through a mental barrier.  I overcame my fear and did what I needed to do.  This was big!

I can’t tell you where this climb is going to take me but I can tell you some of the thoughts that are going through my head.



I am considering sky diving.



I am considering flying an airplane.



I am considering climbing a 100 ft cliff.

These are thoughts that never would have entered into my head just 4 weeks ago.

What direction would this new way of thinking take me in business, relationships, health and life?

If you have a fear that’s holding you back or even a mental barrier, use my blue print to overcome and reach a new level.

Step 1: Acknowledge the fear

Step 2: Test the fear

Step 3: Set small goals that push outside of your comfort zone

Step 4: Reach your pain threshold and go a little bit further

Step 5: Finish, no matter how long it takes you to get there


This entry was posted in Character, Confidence, Focus, Goals, Health, Impact28k, Leadership, Motivation, Performance, Planning, Purpose, Relationships, Self, Success. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Breaking Through: A Story of How I Overcame my Fear of Heights

  1. Janet says:

    Hi Mike. Geeeeeee. What an experience and so great you were able to do it several times to move yourself further. What I also know is that when you face something like that you put yourself in that elusive present moment of the now. And you know you’re alive!

    I agree – stretch the comfort zone – not jump right out. It still takes you where you want to go. It also gives perspective about that business deal or whatever huh!

  2. Jose LugoSantiago - Craft Your Journey! says:

    Mike, thanks so much for sharing your personal experience. Closely related to risk-taking (well said, btw) is stretching. Getting in the middle of the action…going from the known activity to the unknown. I tell aspiring leaders to stretch their limits of what they are accostumed to do. Basically, get out of your comfort zone and do something new (nothing big, just small…that would be enough to helpone stretch). The amount of exposure to several experiences makes us better people. Always motivated!

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