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Shared Courage: When friends go off the cliff with you

Updated: Feb 19, 2019

Yesterday, I was skiing with friends, all parents of children in the same ski program, and I wanted to try a new trail. My daughter had nicknamed it “the cliff” already, and several people were wary of the challenge. A few had tried it the previous day, and no one was excited to repeat the experience. We got off the lift, regrouped, and I announced that I was going, but it was fine for them to go elsewhere. I’m comfortable on my own. But one stepped up, she said “you shouldn’t do this one alone, you need a friend; l will go with you”. My heart warmed.

We turned down the trail, slowly approaching the precipice, and stopped. There were five other people, including two children peering over the drop with trepidation. One of the children inched out, she started slide slipping and could not turn. She proceeded to slide the whole way down. We stood there, with the excuse of not wanting to risk crashing into her, which only allowed fear to build.

“We can do it” my friend insisted. “Just a couple turns and we’ll be down.” It was enough for me to take the plunge.

High quality connections over time become friends. These people form our communities and take care of each other. We all need friends, at work and beyond. At work, we are more engaged, more productive, and more committed when we have good relationships. We live longer and happier lives when we have high quality relationships in our community (see this 80 year Harvard study).

Friends in different contexts help in different ways. For me, skiing is meditative, a complete escape from work and the everyday demands of a full life. But ski friends make the time more enjoyable and more meaningful. We conquer our fears together.

Last season, I was with two other ski friends when they completed their first double black diamond. I took a picture of them at the bottom. The victory was sweeter because they did it together.

We bond over shared experiences. Together, when we find the courage to conquer fears, figure out difficult tasks, handle unpredictable clients, or pull together to meet a deadline, we build trust and deepen these relationships.

How can you deepen your high quality connections? Find your next cliff, and jump together.

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