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Pushing Limits

What Are Your Limits?

A television programme that ran a story on my Tourism business, Adventurama, back in 1997 opened their report by saying, "Tim Sillcock likes Living On The Edge!" They continued by declaring, "and you could say the same about his decision to start an adventure business!"

Whilst I brushed off the quip as journalistic sensationalism, later I saw the relevance of pushing boundaries in business, and overcoming 'fear'; as I fought for the survival of the business against incredible odds, over which I had absolutely no control, caused by factors external to the company.

It's true that I liked pushing the limits in the adventure sports that I eagerly pursued in my younger days. I drew upon those experiences during the months in which I assessed, planned and re-structured Adventurama; and again in later years with other business ventures and challenges.

One of my most memorable lessons in overcoming challenge in my adventures, that gave me strength and determination in business, occurred on a rock climbing trip at Arapiles, near Horsham, many years ago. You could say I was over the edge on this occasion. I was certainly out of my comfort zone!

I was traversing a rock wall, about 150m above the ground. I was leading the climb. My buddy was below me but out of sight.

I found I had nowhere to go, however, I could see a tiny crack that would serve as a grip, just within my reach. It was only about 10 cm wide and about a centimetre deep. A climber's dream!

I needed a second grip to hold my full weight. I could see a small knoll jutting out from the rock approximately 1.5 metres past the crack. It was about the size of a golf ball. I knew that in one move I could reach for the crack and swing my body across the wall and crab the knoll with my other hand. My feet would dangle until I swung further along the wall to where there was an easy chimney where I could rest.

I counted to three and off I flew, hugging the rock wall, jamming my fingers into the crack and reaching for the knoll. My precision would equal any move made in a Batman movie, right down to the wham, bang and slam! However, for me it was wham, bang and crunch as the knoll broke away from the rock wall leaving me hanging by just three fingers.

Why is it that time stands still at those moments? I clearly remember the massive surge of adrenalin and determination as I held on, searching for a way out of this dilemma. I remember the feeling of energy pumping into my fingertips. It was like they had frozen and become steel shackles. They were not going to let go! I was not going to let go!

The amount of energy that my body directed to those three figures was mind blowing. The clarity with which my thought processes assessed my options and the rational decision process that followed was so focused that the way forward seemed to glare like a modern day navigation device. Ironically, the answer was not to forge forward but to take a few steps downwards, then to take a slightly different route upwards.

Is the Pathway Ahead Clear?

It was after that experience that I realised that life was like a game of ‘snakes and ladders’ in which sometimes it is necessary to take a step or two backwards before it becomes clear which pathway is the best to progress forward. Business requires a similar approach. It is often necessary to stop and reflect. Sometimes the business needs to slow its growth and consolidate and refine its systems, culture, communication and structure. Then there are occasions when fearless and creative action is required to secure a market opportunity or to drive expansion.

Whatever your approach to business development, be fearless, confront challenge, but take time to reflect. Check that the direction you are taking is the best and your strategy is well considered and based on sound information.

As always, I wish you well in your business ventures.

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