Just Say Yes

I had an unbelievable experience last Friday when I participated in Outward Bound’s Building Adventure 2014 and rappelled down Brandywine Realty Trust’s One Logan Square in Center City – 31 stories! A former colleague reached out to me over 2 months ago looking for a teammate to join his rappelling team and raise funds for this wonderful organization that believes in adventure based education – (learn more here).

I have been so busy with life and twins and Juno and everything else that consumes my day-to-day that it was easy to put out of my brain…even though I’m terrified of heights. I had said yes before I even thought about what I was agreeing to do. My default is always yes. Before I could blink, it was Monday of the rappel week and I had just a few days to mentally prepare (or mentally breakdown)…I found myself cursing John for even suggesting that I join his team. I cursed myself for agreeing to such nonsense and I was riddled with anxiety leading up to the big day.

My mom, “Why do you agree to such stupid sh*t?”

My wife, “You can’t die like this, it’s not fair.”

My business partner, “We need to talk about life insurance.”

My friend the tax accountant/realist, “No matter how good you think your life insurance policy is, it will not cover such things.”

Soon enough it was Friday morning and I was just a few hours away from the big event. We packed the boys up and headed into Center City. The lump in my throat and pit in my stomach grew as I approached the building, looked up, and saw actual humans hanging in various (very high) places from the building – appearing to be blowing back and forth by the exceptionally windy day – and very slowly making their way down the building. I wanted to run, truly. I was terrified. However, I kept thinking about the friends and family who believed in me enough to donate money. I thought of the kids who needed this inspiration – I wanted them to know that I didn’t just write a check, that I conquered a fear and they could as well.

After a two-hour delay and a lot of nervous rooftop chatter with my team, there I was standing on the edge of the building, being convinced to just fall back. The crew promised me that the equipment wouldn’t fail me, I had to have faith. After a few minutes of coaxing, I fell back and started to descend. I went rather quickly, not taking in the view, but concentrating squarely on my goal of making it to the bottom without bodily injury or an embarrassing panic attack. 15 floors later I was exhilarated. I couldn’t believe how amazing it was to walk down the side of the building. I saw folks working away in their offices. Some waved, some smiled – one office had a big sign that said, “Don’t fall.” What an interesting perspective I was getting – all because I said yes.

I was so accomplished when my feet hit the ground, I felt incredible. My family was there to greet me and take pictures, and I was full of pride. One of my teammates was safely on the ground, the last three still rappelling down the side of the building. We had done it – together. I had deepened my relationship with John and made three new friends that will forever share this memory with me.

The moral of the story is simple – just say ‘yes’. It’s incredible what this world has to offer and what doors will open when you say yes. Too often I meet folks whose default is always excuses. It’s almost as though they are thinking of a polite way to say no before you can even get a full question or proposition out of your mouth. These are the people who always miss out on experiences and opportunities. They miss out on making new connections and new friends. They miss out on a chance to self-improve. This can be a critical piece of your professional life. So much of what we do is getting and staying connected to all sorts of people. Particularly in Philadelphia, which I find is more of a small town than a big city, it’s critical to nurture and add to your circle of professional connections. Who knows? You may just make a friend, conquer a fear, learn a little about yourself, and inspire others along the way. Also, you could raise over $15,000 to an amazing non-profit like we did! GO TEAM!

No more excuses, people. When asked – not matter what it is – just say yes.



Mikal Harden