Trust – My Fall Into The Unknown

by jloh


Haven’t posted in the last 2 days because I was away at a leadership camp up in the hills somewhere in the heart of Peninsular Malaysia. I’ve been to many and what I always love about camps/ sessions like these are the experiential elements of learning about how I actually operate in my life.

If I had to choose, I’ll always advocate an experiential type camp over a lecture-type training session simply because of the depth of learning that going through games and exercises with almost full-senses stimulation can deliver, versus just intellectual stimulation of classroom lecture sessions.

And if you’re game to face up to who you really are so that you can use that to adjust or propel yourself to the next level in your life – these are the best places to meet the most important person in your life.


And sometimes, you’re not as pretty as you thought.

But that’s the point. Because without truth as a basis, anything you build in your life will be on quicksand and won’t be able to weather very many storms.

So when my company launched this camp as an initiative to develop teamwork, bonding, and self-exploration for the local leadership here – I jumped at the opportunity to advocate this strongly to my team.

But mostly, I knew it was for me. I needed a tune-up, an alignment in my own direction, an opportunity to learn while I played and to completely PARTICIPATE instead of the running the events like I usually do.

And while I learned many awesome things about myself – it wasn’t the awesome stuff that lead to the breakthroughs; I was tuned the whole weekend to catch the scary, painful, dark parts of who I am being so that I can expose it to the light of truth and get through it.

So this post I’m not going to regale you with how we played to win in everything (and my team came out overall champs too) or how powerful it is to see teamwork in action, etc.

Nope, I’m not going there – I appreciate those glorious moments with my amazing team, but I’m in the mood for some grit now.

There were 2 exercises that really hit me in the gut from this camp, that revealed things about myself to me that I have not realized nor made me proud about who I was being. Things I missed in the midst of my busyness and striving to keep things running and thriving for the last couple of years. This post I’ll talk about one.

The first was a game called the “Trust Fall”. Now, if you’ve gone to similar camps like this, this might be familiar to you – there are variations but still the point of the lesson is still the same. It’s about how to let go & just trust your team to catch you when you fall.

The one that the camp chief used for this game was to stack up 5 or 6 banquet chairs, get a bunch of your team mates to stand behind and using their hands only – catch you when you fall. Backwards, from the top of the chair – hands crossed in front of your chest. So, when he was explaining it – it wasn’t that scary, and one of my team mates did this exercise falling from a 5-storey building, face first, into a net held by 6 people and nothing else. So, this falling off 4-5 ft from the chair thing into about 10-15 people behind you didn’t sound so bad.

Until it was my turn to get on the chair.

Geez. All my beliefs about how bold and brave I was – went out the window. I’m not that tall, but at 5’6” standing with my back to the unknown and just falling. My knees were shaking. Badly.

I messed it up completely. I fell the first time and my knees gave way, so it bent before I fell. Which just means I didn’t embody the point of the exercise – to just trust and fall. So, I did it again. Better result, but just as scary – I was still not trusting.

And while I supported every fall of my teammates by standing right up front, my mind was racing while my heart pumped in my chest. I can’t believe it. I knew I had trust issues but I didn’t realize they were this deep and still so real for me. And while I had no problems supporting the fall of others, it hit me straight in the face that I had deep, ingrained beliefs that no one can support my fall. That I had to do everything myself and I was afraid to really trust anyone with my heart or my life. That was the truth.

Were my beliefs justified? Well, yes, and no.

Yes because like anyone else, I have been let down many times, by the people closest to me on many occasions – betrayals, broken promises, heartbreaks, instability of convictions, etc. And many times I have chosen to pick up the pieces on my own. Sometimes, when it was proven to be unsalvageable, I walked away. So I developed this complex where no one can be trusted.

And no, because the truth is that it wasn’t about me. They were just going on their paths and choosing to do what they felt was best for them. So it wasn’t personal at all. I know that for a fact, because I wasn’t spared the verdict of having let other people down in my life either. I have, many times too.

But that I wasn’t able to allow myself to trust 100% has many implications towards the quality of my life. I wouldn’t be able to grow my business as fast, because I wouldn’t allow others to really support me; I wouldn’t be able to let someone love me because he’ll break my heart when he has access to it; I wouldn’t be able to appreciate the strength of a man to show up and take care of me, because I insist on being more masculine than him; the leadership in my team would not be able to flourish because it gets strangled off; my ability to let go and just play 100%; and so much more.

Incidentally, I am just allowing myself to fall in love with someone after a 2-year hiatus from romantic relationships – and it’s scary as hell. So it’s no coincidence that this exercise came into my life at this point as well.

Being 100% vulnerable and trusting is probably one of the lessons I’ve been dealing with for the last 10 years, and it is critical for 100% raw and connected living.

And while personal strength and fortitude is one of my strongest character traits, it’s truly a hollow and counterfeit version if it is not backed-up with the ability to really allow myself to be vulnerable and trusting in the people around me.

So wish me courage to – I’m going to work on really integrating this lesson into my life, because I made a pact with myself a long time ago that I’d rather be dead than to live holding back in any way.

I wish you the same too – be blessed, live from your heart.