Reaching the top rungs of your ladder

The higher you want to go, the steadier your base needs to be.

Last week my favorite Irishman sprinted up to the roof like a cheerful mountain goat and patched a leak in five minutes. (He’s that tiny blob pictured on the top rung.)

*That’s the short version of this story.*

The longer version goes a little something like this:

He asks if I can help him with something outside. Says it’ll take a half hour, tops.

I, supportive partner that I am, say “okey dokey” and we’re out the door.

He’s got this gigantic heavy old 40-foot extension ladder that’s been sitting dormant for 4 years. And it’s all rusty… so we spend a good bit of time wrestling  with the thing… trying to get it all oiled and ready for use. It’s the ladder’s maiden voyage for getting him up to the roof — he’s never been up there in 25-odd years of owning the house.

He does some recon and decides to lean the ladder against the peak of the house, with the base of it on the back deck. Me holding the ladder steady.

(I suggest we ask a neighbor if we could put the ladder in their yard, because with it positioned like this, it’s almost a straight shot up and that’s not safe. But I’m not the one in charge of this mission…)

He gets halfway up before turning tail.

“It didn’t feel safe,” he says.

(Cue me looking at the camera like I’m on The Office.)

A neighbor appears.

The first thing out of his mouth?

“Y’all wanna put that ladder in our yard?”

(Still staring blankly at the camera like Jim Halpert.)

So we put the ladder in the neighbor’s yard. Now that it’s at a more sensible angle, he scampers right up like a squirrel and makes the fix, lickety split.

All told, it took about an hour and a half.

Here’s what I took away from this little backyard drama:

You can have all the experience in the world and still get scared.

My Irishman is a contractor and has more experience with ladders than anybody I know. But he hadn’t used this particular ladder to get up on this particular roof before. Unexpected stuff can mess with your confidence, and even experienced people will get scared under the right (or wrong) circumstances. In this case, his fear was telling him that the angle was way wrong and unsafe.

Everybody needs support from time to time.

If I hadn’t been there to brace the ladder at the base, he wouldn’t have even attempted to scale the ladder because it would’ve been too wobbly. You might have the skills and the vision to know exactly how to fix a problem, but without the proper support on the way up, it’s dangerous.

With the right prep, you can get stuff done at the speed of light.

Once we had the ladder prepped and the right angle figured out, it was no problem for him to shimmy up and make the fix.

And if we’d asked the neighbor for access from the start, we would’ve been done in half the time vs. fussing with the dangerous angle for so long. But my love is an independent rascal who thrives on a challenge.

The whole thing reminded me of the work I do with my private clients.

They’re experts, with skills and vision up the wazoo. They just need the right prep and support so they can climb to new heights, quickly and safely.

Like Jill Spivack and Jennifer Waldburger, founders of Sleepy Planet Parenting. Pioneers in their industry for 20+ years, but undecided what their next up level would look like…


There’s no question Carolyn helped us reboot our sense of worth and value in the world … and the world did not take long to respond!  Within 2 months of working together, we landed a huge new project that combined our passion and expertise in a groundbreaking way, and now we have a platform to reach a much broader audience. Carolyn is an extraordinary listener and truly gifted at reflecting back the light in each of us, and in all we have created together.

They need somebody to hold the 40 foot ladder for them while they climb.

And maybe suggest a different angle to try. They needed somebody to spot them while they pivot.

With those things in place, my clients shine the same way my spunky Irishman’s skills shone once the right strategy was set and allowed him to patch the roof in a flash.

What’s at the top of your ladder? 

And who’s holding the base steady while you climb?


Posted In: Mindset & Priorities, Thought Leadership