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ActiveVoice: Feel the fear… and figure out how to overcome it

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

One inflatable raft versus mother nature.

Risk versus responsibility – it’s a simple equation. Less responsibility, less risk. More responsibility, more risk.

As children, we’re not afraid to climb trees, jump off heights, ride our bikes at a million miles an hour or cartwheel until we fall down. There are no bills to pay, no work to return to or any concept that a broken bone (or four) may have an impact on our everyday life.

Then you grow up, and responsibility hits, and with responsibility comes a tendency to be risk averse.

I was told once about the risk versus reward theory: Is an adventure worth the risk for an ultimate reward? The example was climbing Mt Everest – is the risk (at its least injury or sickness; at its worse death) worth the reward? Sir Edmund Hillary certainly thought so.

While, realistically, most of us don’t want to be Sir Ed, Mt Everest presents itself to us in different ways. Everyone has his or her own ‘Everest’ – a goal or challenge to overcome, which holds a set of associated risks.

Your Everest could be getting on a bike after 20 years and commuting to and from work, facing your fears of traffic and lack of confidence on two wheels to take that journey.

It could be achieving a handstand, something you haven’t done since you were five, facing the risk of falling on your head but building up strength to achieve your goal. Or maybe it’s mountain biking for the first time, taking up a water sport or climbing a mountain (local treks up Mauao or Rainbow perhaps).

My Everest presented itself in the form of white water rafting. Rafting Adventure, based out of Okere Falls, took five friends and I down the rapids of the Kaituna River. This journey includes Tutea Falls – the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world.

At 7m, this thing is a beast. For those statistically inclined, there is 11tn of water rushing through a narrow passage, which you raft down at pace. It can end one of two ways: raft up or raft down. You can guess which one I would prefer.

It wasn’t just rafting either. As we had become known to Rafting Adventure’s owner Lance Roozendaal over the past six months through his Seriously Social Rafting Competition, he also allowed us to hop out and do bombs from a rocky outcrop, as well as body surf down one of the small rapids.

As someone that (ironically) grew up near the beach but has a fear of water, this trip was my Everest. Despite the experienced guide and expert safety instructions, risk versus responsibility immediately takes over and the fear of impending doom creeps in.

But I’m happy to report that I did it and I’m alive writing this column (not a ‘ghost’ writer – pun intended). For me, it was about acknowledging the risk versus responsibility but, as an adult, being experienced enough to know my own mind and my environment to be risk aware (not risk adverse).

"We made it through the wilderness..."

Being an adult means I can assess my surrounds and, more importantly, my own skills and ability, and confidently make a decision how best to proceed. If I had decided the risk was too great, or I didn’t have the abilities or support to get out of a tricky situation, I wouldn’t have stepped into that boat or plunged into the surging waters.

The feeling of overcoming my own personal challenges was the reward (as well as a refreshing dip in the Kaituna) and it felt so good.

We may look back and miss those carefree times of being young and responsibility free, but I think now we’re better equipped and experienced to recognise those risks, the reward is even greater because we know the lengths we’ve had to go to achieve our goals.

What’s your Everest? Drop me a line at to share your story.

Huge thanks to Rafting Adventure for a fun time on the water.

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x3 May 2016