• claremayell

Your Projects in the Tree Tops

Have you ever felt like your project goal is on the opposite end of a high wire from you? You’re standing ready to place your foot on that wire, a long drop below you. You glance at over to where you’re heading. It’s not actually far away, but seems like an intrepid adventure to get across.


That was me when I chose to do a tree top event for my birthday many years ago. It was before organised things like GoApe! were around. A lot less glossy than high rope courses today!

I'd organised the day well. Timings were sorted, what to bring shared, directions distributed, food and drink planned, accommodation booked. That won't surprise anyone who knows me!


On a sunny day in July, a dozen or so of us arrived excitedly at the location.


Very ready to get started.


Like a project, the day kicked off with a briefing. What followed was a series of challenges combining rope, wood and trees at ever increasing heights. The low ones, a few inches off the ground were a breeze. So easy.


Then the activity moved to the high circuit.


No problem, I thought, as instructors checked our harnesses and ropes to belay us and keep us safe. I looked up to check out the structures in the trees. No worry, no fear - no anticipation of how determined I would need to be a little later.


It’s the same with projects, when you start out you have a plan; you know exactly where you are going; what kit you will need; what to expect. As you progress, it can move away from being easy. Sometimes you too start peering up at the project’s high ropes and crossings, placed way up in the air and start thinking: ‘this might get difficult!’


For me, the one I had to dig deepest for was a tree trunk lashed horizontally between two upright trees. Very high up. The goal, to walk to the other side on a surface a few inches wide. Oh, and to shuffle past my friend doing the same thing towards me from the other end. Simple right?


In theory, yes. It was no different from the low level one we’d already done. Step out onto the tree trunk, put one foot in front of the other, stop in the middle, pass round your friend, walk to the other side. Job done. This high version should have been just as easy. But it wasn’t at all!


It’s the same when your projects get complex.


What you thought would be straight forward somehow isn’t. The actual tasks are the same. You do know what you should be doing but completely freeze for a while. The basics escape you.


Difficulty makes it feel different.


When elevated, placing your foot on the trunk is not too bad. Moving your weight and other foot to join it for the first step seems impossible, never mind the second and third. When you’re caught up in your anxiety, it feels like you’re up there on your own - no matter how many people are there to help. No matter how achievable everything is in reality.


On the tree trunk, I had two options – climb down or walk across. I chose to walk. It wasn't graceful. It wasn't smooth. It was slow. I was scared. I absolutely needed the encouragement from below. I did get to the other end without falling off.


So, how did I do it?


The short answer is in the same way as delivering my projects. Keeping my focus on the end point, keeping my eye line up, taking it one step at a time, absorbing energy from those around me, being determined, trusting others.


So, what's my 'killer' conclusion for this story? With determination, a defined process and good people around, you can get you to the other side - however high up that wire is.


That tree top birthday was definitely one to remember!


At Projects that Deliver, we work hard to belay our clients as they take their first steps on that project high wire. We’re with you using our experience to advise and help you put the right foot forward. Encouraging and reassuring. We’re also there to celebrate together when you successfully smash your project challenges.


Let us help you with your next tree top project challenge, book in for a free initial session. Not quite ready, go here to try our quiz. We love talking anything projects, so call us on 020 3286 2866.





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