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There I was, staring up at 900 feet of cascading water and holding hands with a stranger from Maine. Jamaica’s most famous landmark was about to become a checkmark on a bucket list.

Dunn’s River Falls

The eighteen people in our excursion group – twelve friends and four strangers – read the disclaimer sign at the base of the Falls: “WARNING: *Back problems * Neck problems * High Blood Pressure * Diabetes * Heart Problems * Climb at your own risk.”

Our Jamaican guide, a twenty-year veteran of Dunn’s River Falls, asked if we were ready. We gave him our best, “Ya man.”

He estimated the climb would take about forty-five minutes and assured that all of us would make it to the top…if we wanted to.

6 Things I Learned Climbing A Waterfall

1. Facing risk together means you need to trust the ones closest to you.

OK, so it was low level risk but our guide insisted, “Everyone hold hands.” Our first step at the base of the Falls was into a deep pool and we needed the support of those on either side of us. The closest people to me were my wife and a young adult from Maine.

So we held hands. It felt awkward. Soon I was grateful.

More than once she steadied me on the way up.

Anyone can succeed when you accept a little help from your friends or strangers.

2. Obstacles are for overcoming.

On the bus ride to the Falls our tour guide explained two things about Jamaica:

i) The left side of the road is the right side. The right side of the road is suicide. Don’t panic when normal feels different.

ii) There are no problems in Jamaica. There are only situations. Every situation has a solution.

People with tenacity find the solutions in any situation.

3. Some entrepreneur saw cascading water and turned it into cash.

The Falls are Jamaica’s most popular tourist spot. Travelers arriving at Montego Bay or Ocho Rios are just a sixty minute bus ride away from this world famous landmark. Ka-ching!

The experience illustrated that where most people see obstacles, entrepreneurs see opportunity.

What are you looking at and what do you see?

4. Trust your guide.

The rocks were slippery and the water was cold. Submerged rocks and hidden holes on the bottom were concealed by the cascading water. Our guide knew where every obstacle was and he gave specific directions for us to avoid injury.

He scolded more than once when some of us thought we knew better than him.

5. Getting wet doesn’t mean you’re washed up.

Everyone got wet.

Some accidentally fell into the water. Others jumped. At one point we slid down a rock face into a pool of water.

Getting wet goes with the territory when you’re climbing a waterfall. Setbacks or failures go with the territory when you try new things.

You may get wet but that’s part of the experience.

6. Be undeterred when forced to take detours on the way to your goals.

Other groups of people climbing ahead of us. At one point the way forward was jammed up. Our guide detoured us to alternate route.

We were no longer on the shortest way but we were on a way that kept us progressing.

Forty-five minutes later all of us were successfully at the top, high-fiving and richer – including the guide – for the experience.

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Bob Jones

Happily married to Jocelyn for 44 years. We have two adult sons, Cory and his wife Lynsey and their son Vincent and daughter Jayda; Jean Marc and his wife Angie and their three daughters, Quinn, Lena and Annora. I love inspiring people through communicating, blogging, and coaching. I enjoy writing, running, and reading. I'm a fan of the Double E, Bruins, Celtics, Red Sox and Pats. Follow me on Twitter @bobjones49ers

One Comment

  • Dan Dodge says:

    Congrats on the successful climb up. Did you have to purchase special footwear to prevent slipping?

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