Your confidence has a major impact on your level of happiness.
Confidence can determine how much you achieve in life.
When I lack confidence in myself to handle a specific task, I find myself immobilized by fear, uncertainty, and feelings of anxiety. My mind says things like, "I can't", "I don't know how", and "I haven't done this before". The view forward is obscured and the task appears overwhelming.
Have you experienced this? Have you seen it in your children?
Confidence plays an important role in everybody’s life. It is so powerful that confidence early in life has strong influence on a person’s success when they enter the work force.
Fortunately, as it is with most skills, we can maintain and build confidence through regular practice.
Learning new guitar pieces, working through rock-climbing problems, and climbing trees are not only hobbies I enjoy, they also provide opportunities to work on building my confidence.
Working through the challenges I face in these hobbies can either build or diminish my level of confidence. Since tree climbing is a hobby I share with others, it provides me the additional perspective of watching others work through their own challenges.
In working with many climbers through the years, I have noticed that there appears to be three important steps to building confidence: overcome self-doubt, split a hefty goal into a series of smaller goals, and focus attention inward.
Overcoming Self Doubt
"Whether you think you can or think you can't, you are right."
Negative self-talk is the first thing that must go.
As the case with most challenges, if you are to have any chance at successfully climbing to the top of the tree you will need to overcome self-doubt. This doubt tends to be triggered by fear.
Each of us has our own fears to work through. Fear of heights. Fear of embarrassment. Fear of failure. Brand new experiences can be scary.
Simply taking the initiative to try something new may be enough to help you overcome your fear, thereby giving you a boost in confidence. Once paired with the know-how, you are able to pursue your goal for the day.
For others who are still working through their fear, self-doubt creates an obstacle.
My role as a facilitator is to aid you on your journey to reaching your goal. I can show you the technique yet I cannot climb the tree for you. Once you are on rope, my words are all I have to help you. They are more than enough.
Our fears express themselves in the words we use. The words you use have a profound impact on how well you will perform. "I can't" seems to be the most common and inhibiting phrase I hear people say.
These words are typically uttered within one minute of trying to climb. This leads me to believe they are spoken more out of reflex or conditioning.
In order to move forward, we must stop the negative self-talk. We then replace them with positive words like, "I can do this" and "I am doing it." Speaking and thinking positive words and thoughts instills confidence.
Building on a Series of Smaller Goals
"What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?"
Sometimes our goal is so lofty that we have no idea how to achieve it. In order to reach the goal, we will need to break it down into smaller steps.
There are many reasons why this approach leads to success, but I think a primary driver is that it allows us to realize success at each step. This gives us a boost in confidence. With each successive step our confidence continues to grow.
Thomas came to climb with us earlier this summer. When he first arrived, his sight was set on climbing to the top of the tree. He came with confidence.
As he began to ascend, his focus appeared to be strictly on reaching the top. Focused on that goal, he began to struggle because he tried to skip some of the steps involved in the climbing technique.
The sit-stand method is the foundation of the climbing technique. Given the struggle, he naturally resorted to trying alternative methods like pulling with his arms and kicking his legs out. He then realized he was not getting higher. His frustration began to build while confidence plummeted.
When trying to help a person build confidence, they must be allowed to work on their challenges. Personal growth happens through personal experiences of trial and error. Constantly telling a person how to do something or doing it for them robs them of these invaluable lessons.
By having Thomas turn his attention back to the climbing technique, he was able to focus on the fundamental steps. The steps necessary to reach his overall goal.
With his focus back on using his legs versus his arms, he began to regain some of his confidence. After repeating the process a few times, he was able to realize and acknowledge that he had ascended to 15 feet on his own. In a short period of time, his smaller goal of reaching the first branch was achieved. Eventually, his ultimate goal was only a few feet away.
Thomas' goal of climbing to the top was unachievable until he broke it down into smaller attainable steps. With each success, his confidence grew. With each boost to his confidence, he was prepared to take on the next challenge. Gradually, his ultimate goal came into focus.
Do Not Compare Yourself to Others
"It doesn't matter what others are doing. It matters what you are doing."
Building confidence in yourself has nothing to do with other people. Confidence is understanding and knowing what you are good at or the value you provide.
In order to build confidence, you must be focused on yourself and your own experience.
When Thomas began to struggle, his frustration was further compounded when he noticed that others were higher than him. He lost confidence when he confused his ability to perform as well as the others as a reflection on his ability to succeed.
His ability to climb had absolutely nothing to do with how well the other climbers did. Comparing himself to others only allowed negative self-talk to return and diminish his confidence.
Almost like a light switch, when he returned his focus to his own progress, his confidence returned immediately.
Hobbies That Build Confidence
“The more risks you allow your children to make, the better they learn to look after themselves.”
I value activities that challenge me and provide opportunities for growth.
From April through October, I am surrounded by people. My weeks are filled with facilitating tree climbs 6 out of 7 days. With this comes the ability to climb regularly. Together they keep me focused on maintaining and building my own confidence.
With winter rolling in, I will not be in the trees as often. My other hobbies like rock wall climbing, learning guitar, and training for half-marathons take on a bigger part of my weekly schedule. These activities provide many of the same benefits that tree climbing does. They help me remain aware of and practice the 3 steps to building confidence.
The confidence I gain from these hobbies further benefits me when I take on new challenges and pursue new goals in other areas of my life.
I have experienced the power that having confidence in myself provides. I have seen the same in many of you who have climbed with us.
April 14th is the first day of our 2018 climbing season. Until then, I encourage you to seek out other hobbies and experiences that can help you and your children continue to build confidence.
With confidence, happiness and success follow.
When we first met, it was likely as we clipped you on rope and had you sit back in your saddle during one of our Recreational Climbs.
Do you remember how you felt after the first time you climbed with us?
Most new climbers experience feelings of excitement paired with apprehension. Like you, we have no idea how you will do nor what challenges you may face. We discovered those together as you began ascending on your own.
The climber we take off rope once you’ve returned to the ground is a changed person.
The excitement is still there, but now glowing with pride. The short time you spent in the tree was enough to have a profound impact. The feeling of accomplishment is a boost to your self-esteem.
If you listen, the benefits of tree climbing can be hear in the conversations and comments made by climbers in the tree. The interactions between climbers and those on the ground are revealing. The feedback from climbers and parents is enlightening.
Each of these speak to the value of tree climbing.
What’s the Next Step
As I wrap up the final recreational climbs and stow the gear for the winter, a lot of fond memories and faces run through my head.
Many of the people we met this year were looking for a unique experience, and found it.
How did her friends respond when your daughter told them she had climbed a large tree over the weekend? Were your friends and family amazed when you shared the pictures of your son in the tree?
During the busy climbing season, we are focused on giving this experience to as many people as possible. Now we are offering some additional opportunities to those who are interested in taking their experience to the next level.
Learning To Climb
Many people are perfectly happy to let me set everything up and facilitate their climbing experience.
Others, however, long for the freedom to head out and climb on their own. With proper training and experience, you can begin your journey into the trees and become part of the international community of recreational tree climbers.
Do you remember how it felt to get behind the steering wheel of a car for the first time? Getting a driver’s license was a rite of passage. With driving lessons and the ability to drive under supervision, you were able to learn the rules of the road and develop safe driving skills.
Our Beginning Tree Climbing course is the entry point into this exciting and rewarding hobby. It is designed specifically for the recreational tree climber. While tree climbing does not require a license, successful completion of this course might remind you of how you felt when you finally got your driver’s license!
We pack a lot of value into the 16 hours of personalized instruction along with a copy of the Beginning Tree Climbing reference manual. One of our goals during class time is to expose you to a variety of equipment in hopes of helping you find the gear you like when it comes time to purchase. The wish list for a new climber quickly adds up!
Many new climbers find equal value in the 6-post class climbs we offer.
My goal is to get you climbing and practicing your climbing skills. For some, these 6 climbs provide a level of comfort in having a coach on site. It also allows you to spread out the cost of your initial investment in personal gear. The cost of climbing gear pales in comparison to buying your own car. But, as with all hobbies, there is an expense all the same.
How Can We Help You Continue Your Journey
I view tree climbing as a place to be. I can spend hours sitting in the canopy. Meditating. Journaling. Swinging. Drawing. Relaxing.
Trees provide an essential energy source. Sitting in their presence exposes you to this energy, thereby reducing feelings of depression, stress, and anxiety. Tapping into this source helps me find balance in my life.
Hopefully one of our offerings will touch you in the same way.
For those ready to take control of the wheel, our next Beginning Tree Climbing class is rapidly approaching! It will take place on November 11&12th. Learn more here and sign up to join us!
Are you looking for new and exciting ways to get outside and enjoy the seasons? You do not have to travel across the state let alone to the other side of the country to find exciting adventures in the great outdoors. There are a number of unique offerings right here in Waukesha County. Make it a goal to try at least 2 of them this year! Whether you have free time during the week or on the weekends, every one of the following adventures are available to you.
1) Balloon Rides
Wind Dancer Balloon Promotions: WAUKESHA, WI
- Hot-air balloon rides are the ultimate in tranquil early morning or early evening flights in the Waukesha area. Flights are available year-round, seven days a week, weather permitting. Reservations are required. www.winddancerballoons.com
2) Foot Golf
Moor Downs Golf Course: 438 Prospect Ave, Waukesha, WI 53188
- Foot Golf is a combination of soccer and golf! 18-holes. www.golfwaukeshacounty.com/footgolf/
Waukesha County Parks: www.waukeshacounty.gov/camping/
- Menomonee Park, W220 N7884 Town Line Road, Menomonee Falls, WI 53051, (262) 548-7801
- Mukwonago Park, S100W31900 County Hwy LO, Mukwonago, WI 53149, (262) 363-7658
- Muskego Park, S83 W20370 Janesville Rd, Muskego, WI 53150, (262) 548-7801
- Naga-Waukee Park, 651 Hwy 83, Hartland, WI 53029, (262) 548-7801
4) Recreational Tree Climbing
Treetop Explorer LLC: WAUKESHA, WI
- We loved climbing trees as children, but somewhere along the way we stopped. Treetop Explorer, LLC provides the recreational tree climbing experience in southeast Wisconsin. Regularly scheduled climb events open to the public and private climb events available for birthdays, team bonding, reunions, and outdoor adventures. Once you are in your harness and on rope, you are free to ascend at your own pace and move about the tree as you feel comfortable with. www.treetopexplorer.com
5) Disc Golf (aka Frisbee golf)
a) Oakwood Community Park: 3000 Oakwood Road, DELAFIELD, WI 53029
b) The Phantom Disc Golf Course @ Minor Park: HWY LO (Eagle Lake Ave) east of HWY I, MUKWONAGO, WI 53149
c) Miniwaukan Park: 360 McKenzie Dr., MUKWONAGO, WI 53149
d) Valley View Park: 5100 Small Rd., NEW BERLIN, WI 53151
e) Sussex Village Park: N63W24459 Main St., SUSSEX, WI 53089
f) Wales Community Park: 420 E Brandybrook Rd, WALES, WI 53183
g) New Tribes Bible Institute: 915 N Hartwell Ave, WAUKESHA, WI 53186
h) Vernon Disc Golf Course @ Town Hall: W249S8910 Center Dr, BIG BEND, WI 53103
When I tell people that I climb trees, it triggers their own memories and stories about climbing a tree as children. Without fail, a smile comes across their face as they enjoy the memories in their mind while sharing a story with me.
I have climbed trees professionally for over 20 years now. I have climbed to prune them. Climbed to remove them. Climbed to perform other surgical tasks.
A few years ago, I learned that some people climb them simply to be in them. They use the same climbing system that we do as arborists, yet they have no predetermined reason for ascending into the tree other than to get to know the tree.
From that conversation, I was hooked. I had climbed a trees outside of work to practice new techniques for the job. I had even taken friends and family into trees so they could experience the sense of accomplishment reaching the top, and the joy of taking in the view. But it never occurred to me that it was okay to climb solely for the enjoyment. Just as I did when I was a kid.
This is how a 20-year veteran of climbing trees came to “discover” the joy of tree climbing.
The Climbing Tree is taken from an essay I wrote years ago. It describes the impact that tree time had on me as a child. Something I guess I have never outgrown.
The Climbing Tree
I do not recall the species of my first climbing tree. Ash, elm, oak, I couldn’t say. The memories, however, are still vivid in my mind.
At first, I had to ask my older brothers to give me a boost. As they hoisted me high, I stretched my scratched, bruised summer-time kid arms up to the lowest limb and pulled myself up with an “umph” to sit on the worn branch. In time I grew and was able to jump up and touch the limb. Not much longer after that, I was able to jump up and grab the limb all on my own! That was the climactic day that I could finally get myself into the tree relying solely on my own strength and skill.
By that time, I had already been climbing higher into the canopy and further out on branches. My older brothers had shown me where to hold with my hands and where to place my feet so I could discover different spots in the tree. They encouraged me to challenge myself until I could confidently reach out to the two swinging limbs- limbs you could hold onto with both hands and let yourself hang and swing and yell out wild calls into the canopy.
We had many adventures in that tree. We schemed harmless heists and mused over the standard philosophical schoolboy chatter. The tree served as our fort where we would plot our neighborhood mischief for the day. Even though it was our fort, we never used a single nail or board. The number of branches and the perfect sitting areas throughout the crown of the tree served as the ideal fort for us.
Oftentimes I'd head up alone on a hot summer day to lay back on one of the limbs that held me as if they had grown for just that particular purpose. Other times I would climb to the "crow's nest", a point where five branches emerged at the same point and curved upward to create a seat that cradled my upper body.
It was here that I could read a book, while swinging one leg lazily between limbs or doze off in the calmness and serenity of the canopy, as thousands of emerald leaves twisted and turned around me in a soft summer breeze. I had discovered tree time.
Researchers have measured the benefits of activities like tree climbing. They found that the perception of movement as you use your mind to navigate through the tree, and operate your hands and muscles while climbing, has tremendous effects on your cognitive abilities. The improvement in working memory is one of the skills they measured to have marked improvement.
Read more at Time.com.
For those who like a more technical discussion, read about it at Psychology Today.
As an I.S.A. Board Certified Master Arborist, T.C.I.A. Certified Treecare Safety Professional, T.C.I.A. Tree Care Specialist, and G.O.T.C. Recognized Senior Instructor, Curt has spent over 30 years dedicated to the study and care of trees.