My husband has always liked Jeeps, but a few years ago, he went “all in” and became an avid member of a local Jeep Club. One thing that I’ve noticed from hanging out around the Jeep Community is that they share a passion for overcoming a challenge.  Show them a barrier and they’re going to try to go up it, or down it, or around it, or through it.

Need proof?  Here’s two minutes of my life that I won’t get back:

Yes, we were headed windshield first down a cliff.
Yes, it was pouring down rain which made the cliff even more treacherous.
No, you can’t really tell how steep it is until the end when he turns the Jeep around and you look back at it.
Yes, that really was my heavy breathing that you hear all the way down.
No, I did not want to do it again.
Yes, he really did go back up.
Yes, I absolutely jumped out of the Jeep that fast.
Yes, ALL the Jeep guys had to try it after he did.

Clearly, cliff diving in a Jeep is not one of my core strengths but finding the lessons inside an experience is, so here are a few things I think we can all learn from this video.

1) Barriers WILL come up, so be prepared.

You can’t go off-roading in the Rocky Mountains without expecting that you’re going to run into some obstacles on the trail. There was no choice but to go down that cliff if we wanted to continue to our destination.

Because we know that we’ll encounter barriers, the vehicle is reinforced with safety gear and body armor. We wear seat belts and ensure that the winch is in working condition. We carry extra food, water, first aid kit and fire extinguisher. We never go off-roading alone and my husband practices his skills often on smaller, less dramatic obstacles.

As a Community leader, it’s also important to prepare. Many people are enticed into Community-building because they think that it’s an excellent way to create recurring revenue (and it is), but it is NOT as easy as many people may believe. You have to be prepared for the challenges that you’re likely going to run into.

That preparation starts with having a plan and building the skills that are necessary to be successful.

2) When things look uncertain, look for other people who have successfully done it.

Even though I really was frightened (queue the heavy breathing), I also logically knew that other people had made it safely ahead of us.

Similarly, starting something new in your Community can be a bit scary. Will it work? How will people respond? What if it fails? What if it’s wildly successful?

While there are certainly some exceptions, it’s almost always possible to find people who have done, or are doing, what you’d like to do. You may have to look outside your industry or circle of friends to find them, but there are likely examples of success out there.

If your uncertainty lies in the area of membership-building, The Joy of Membership™ Community is a resource you shouldn’t overlook.

3) A tiny shift in angle can make a huge difference.

One of the reasons why the progression down the cliff is so slow is that my husband is an experienced driver who knows that the difference between laudable success and utter failure is often just the tiniest angle. So, every movement forward is a test and the driver is prepared to adjust if needed.

I’m always surprised when I see people “try” membership-building and give up before they really find traction. They often have no idea how close they were to having the break-through they need… they just needed to back up a bit and try a slightly different angle.

4) Having a community of people who believe in you, or at least support you, can bolster your courage to do hard things.

Did you notice the spotters along the side of the cliff and at the bottom? When you surround yourself with people who care about the same things that you care about and share your goals, you increase the likelihood of your success. They can provide valuable feedback and guide you through blind spots.

5) It’s OK to try something, even if you don’t know for sure that it will work.

My husband didn’t know if it would work to go back up the cliff. Given the rainy conditions, success was unlikely – but he wasn’t afraid to try, even if it meant that he’d fail.

How many times do we shy away from doing something that would advance us toward our goals, simply because we’re not sure that it will be successful? Or because failure seems more likely?

When someone suggested that Shannon go back up the hill, I clearly did not see the possibility in that. Shannon, on the other hand did. He became the first to try it and, as soon as others saw him do it, they wanted to do it, too. Sometimes the hardest things are the most inspirational to our community members.

6) It’s also OK to know your limits and set boundaries.

I’ll never be as brave in a Jeep as my husband is. To get down that cliff, I held on tight to whatever I felt gave me stability. Then, when it became clear that the trip was going to extend even further beyond what I could handle, I made a deliberate choice to stop. I’m not sure I’ve ever exited a vehicle as quickly as I did on that day.

There are times in life (and in membership-building) where you have to say “enough”. It’s OK to take time to back up, breathe again, get the wobble out of your legs, and regroup. You don’t need anyone else’s permission to do this.

Chime in with your thoughts in the comments.  I'd love to hear…


Joy Duling is Founder and CEO of The Joy of Membership.  Since 2005, Joy and her team have helped associations, trade groups and membership-based nonprofits run their programs more easily and deliver exceptional member care.

You can find FREE tools, tips and training to help you run and grow your membership organization in The Joy of Membership Help Hub.




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