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Hitting the ground, hopefully running

By Matt King

Rock Climbing

Every Monday night, I go rock climbing. I walk into a large climbing gym and quickly slip into my climbing shoes before carefully putting on a harness and chalk bag. I’m taking a climbing course and this past Monday we were practicing falling. During my first fall, I found myself suddenly hanging upside down, dangling there as my body gently smacked against the beige plaster wall, the rope tightly, uncomfortably pulling between my legs.

I’m not entirely sure what went wrong. It may be said that I was a little too gung-ho about the falling and, upon looking back, all I can come up with is that I just wasn’t thinking about technique, instead, just about that strange feeling you get when falling.

It’s something that can happen at work, too. You might be working and suddenly you fall, or you cut yourself, and you have no clue what to do in the moment or what to do next to make it better. In the moment, you forget everything – common sense, spidey sense, whatever you like to call it – and you just think, “Uh oh.” Looking back, it all comes down to training.

Training, I’m sure you’ve heard, is important. The first time I fell, I didn’t really know what I was doing – I hadn’t taken the training all that seriously, and I wasn’t listening at the time. I just fell. I gave into the falling impulse and let my body arch and fall in a dangerous manner. I ended up hanging upside down, a position nobody wants to be in except maybe a vampire or bat or one of those dudes who exercises while hanging upside down. But the next time I fell, after I actually listened to and thought about what my instructors had to say, I fell properly and safely.

Even though in that moment, there may be a fear that proves paralyzing, training provides the impulses and memories that can dispel those fears and keep you safe.

So learn from my mistake. Take training seriously and listen; if your employer doesn’t offer some form of safety training, then ask about it. Because it could be the difference between hitting the ground running and just plain hitting the ground.

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