What I Learned About Fear From Climbing Mountains In China

Okay, so I didn’t literally “mountain climb” when I lived in China. But, my husband and I did take some pretty ominous paths up to the tops of mountains, which wasn’t something I would typically do… being that I’m afraid of heights and all.

But, living in a foreign country caused me to do a lot of things that I maybe wouldn’t have done if I hadn’t lived there (i.e. teach to a class of 50+ students in a Chinese University, travel the country without knowing a lick of Chinese, eating weird foods, etc.).


(Don’t mind the “dramatic” pose. It was just a little bit of silliness.)

Looking back, my older self now wonders how I accomplished those things. The motivation I had there existed in knowing that I was living a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I could never recreate that moment in time, so I did the hard work and climbed the path upward.

And here’s what I learned:

#1 . . . It takes hard work to get to the top.

I know that sounds pretty cliche to say, but it’s just fact. If you don’t put the work in, you won’t get there.

Now on the days when I wonder why this thing isn’t working, or why things aren’t easier in my life or business, I remember that you’ve got to lay the groundwork. If you put in the time and the effort, you will get where you want to go but not unless and until you do.

#2 . . . There may be a lot of obstacles along the way.

So, this particular mountain on this particular morning was extremely hard to climb. The stones were covered with early morning condensation and were very slippery.

It was actually really neat to see the people native to the town climbing back down the mountain with such ease. They’ve probably climbed to the top several times over the course of their life, and so it was familiar to them.

For me, though, it was unfamiliar and a little terrifying.

Not knowing the best places to step and often feeling my feet slip (and not to mention that 95% of the way had no railing), I was terrified that I would fall and not be prepared…and quite literally tumble to my death. (Okay, so Mom if you are reading this…it wasn’t maybe that bad, but I was pretty scared).

Yet, I kept climbing despite the obstacles.

#3 . . . You have to get over the fear to see the view from the top.

I know, it sounds so cheesy! But again, it’s complete truth.

The whole time I was climbing, I was so focused on the steps and my fear. When my husband and I neared the top, I slowed down and took a look around me. The view was breathtaking. It’s etched in my mind forever.

Yet, had I not taken my eyes off the stairs and stones, I would not have seen the view.

#4 . . . Sometimes you can’t get to the tippy top, but you can learn from someone else who did.

When we got to a certain point, on the side of this mountain there was a ladder leading up to the next part of the pathway.

At this point, I was yearning to see the view from the tippy top of the mountain, but my hubby and I decided that I would wait for him where I was and that he would climb up the rest of the way then report back to me about how amazing it all was. I knew that with the shoes I had on and the strength I had in me, that that day would not be my day to climb to the utmost point.

But, he went onward. And when he came back down he filled me in on the sights, and showed me the photos he had taken. I was cool with that because I knew the limitations of the tools that I had. But I was really glad to have him beside me, and knowing that he was able to go up to the top and share with me what he saw.

# 5 . . . No risk, no reward.

Climbing up (and even climbing down) was difficult. I was afraid and very focused on my fear for most of the way.

Thinking of what could have happened if I had taken one misstep, could have been enough to not climb up.

Yet, I did it anyway.

I took the risk, and was able to learn more about my fear and more about myself.


I learned a lot that day.

And I think of how running a business can be a little similar to climbing mountains in China. Well, at least when it comes to fear.

The bottom line is that you either put yourself out there…or you don’t. You either work hard, or not. You either take the risk, or you lose the opportunity. It’s all about choice.

What types of fear do you have when running your business? How you do stop focusing on the fear and keep going? Leave your comments below, I’d love to hear!

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  1. Lonna Shepherd says

    Thank you for sharing. I’m dealing with as well while I’m searching for a new job. Although I am a Benefit’s Manager and Payroll Manager I always fear acceptance. I always ask myself do I look the part, can I live up to expectations? I’m currently looking for a job and get nervous about these things. I know I can do the work but I always down play my experience thinking I should always be the assistant to the manager, only to end up wondering why I didn’t go for the management role. Thanks for giving me some insight into knowing that its okay to have fear but to challenge it and cease the moment. Love the images.

    • Amanda says

      Thanks, Lonna for sharing! I also deal with fear of acceptance. I think it’s just a part of human nature to experience that from time to time. I know you’ll do great in the job search and hope you’ll get the job that you’ll love! Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Sasha Holloway says

    OMG you are so right about those mountains. We were on leave there while stationed in Japan and decided to dive into that. We climbed Fuji and let me tell you it pulls something out of you that you didn’t even know lived in you right? Great post. Loved this.

    GOOD LUCK on your job search sweet heart .. you WILL get what you are not only deserving, but will love boo.

  3. Sarah Shotts says

    This is a GREAT post Amanda! Living or traveling abroad definitely pushes us to try and do things we wouldn’t normally do. When I lived in England I was forced to walk, rain or shine… to go to class, to get groceries, to see the city. I didn’t have a car and it rained so often I’d be a hermit if I didn’t go out in it! But back stateside I find myself using the lightest rain as an excuse to stay indoors. This week it was cloudy and sprinkling, but I forced myself to do what I would have done in the UK. I donned my poncho (looking a little ridiculous, but staying dry) and off I went for a walk in the park. It was a great walk, just sprinkling from time to time, and I’m glad I didn’t skip it. Although the guys working on park maintenance did give me some odd looks.

    Thanks for sharing at the Weekly Venture Link Up!!! :)

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