Why I Rappelled Down a Skyscraper


This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.

As CEO of MoxiWorks, I’m proud of how we take care of our customers and employees. I love our culture, because it’s an organic, can-do, bring-your-full-self-to-work vibe that I believe brings out the best in my fellow Moxian, and rubs off on our customers and the residential real estate industry that we serve.

An important part of this culture is our Moxi Fund charitable giving effort, where we raise money to put back into housing-related charities everywhere that Moxians live and work around the globe. I’m a big believer in the imperative to give back and do what I can to support this employee-driven effort.

This is where my lapse of judgment comes in. Last year we beat out fundraising goal of $25,000 before Thanksgiving, so I challenged the company to go for a stretch goal of $30,000 by the end of the year. Um, that took a matter of days and ultimately we raised over $32,000 be the end of the year. Great, right? Totally. Except that when I issued the challenge, I also said that I’d wash the windows of our office on the 13th floor of the skyscraper at 1000 Second Ave. in Seattle. Never bet against Moxians!

This  week  was the payoff for everyone but me. I started on the roof of the building, the 40th floor at 500 feet above the street, and rappelled down to wave to my crew of co-workers through the glass – them smiling and waving to me through the glass in air-conditioned comfort while I was sweating it out on a rare 85-degree Seattle day while dangling from a (very long) rope. Yes, it was a challenge for sure, made a little easier with the help of the awesome crew at Over The Edge.

Before the event, a number of people asked me “are you nervous?”, or “are you afraid?” My answer? Yes! I’m not a risk-averse person (I’m a pilot and motorcycle enthusiast for example), and I don’t consider myself terribly afraid of heights. But, most humans have some degree of basophobia (fear of falling), and some have acrophobia (fear of heights). So why would I have proposed and then done this?

Besides the obvious support for the Moxi Fund, the reason was to overcome my natural fear, and challenge myself to grow by doing something I’ve never done before. I strongly believe that fear is the enemy of growth and opportunity and chose to manage my fears accordingly so I can continue to grow and take advantages of opportunities that come my way. Is it uncomfortable to do this? When you’re leaning back over the edge of the building 500 feet above the ground, trusting your harness, rope, and crew, I’d say yes. But even the greatest fears can be overcome by preparation, coaching, data and teamwork.

All this applies to businesses as well as people. With all the fearmongering going on today about the economy, politics, war and disease, it would be very easy to let fear get the better of us and lead us to be incapacitated. I challenge you all, especially those of you who are in leadership roles, to challenge and conquer your fears and help others do the same. Only by doing this can we all get on with our personal growth and that of our businesses, and seize the inevitable opportunities that are available to us every single day.