#4: Step into discomfort

Bob Ewing
February 19, 2021

Talking Big Ideas.

“What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy.”
~ George Mallory, on climbing Mt. Everest a hundred years ago

This past weekend I relived the scariest moment of my life.

Maryrose and I went on a hike outside Las Vegas with her sister Isabel. We had a blast traversing a sunny ridgeline with panoramic views. I ran ahead with our dog, Ollie, and a mountain appeared in the distance — looking just as frightening as the time I limped away from it more than a decade ago, bleeding and exhausted.

A couple of years after learning to climb, I fell in love with Nevada. I set my heart on summiting the Red Rock Canyon’s highest peak: Mount Wilson. My climbing mentor agreed to make a special trip to do it with me. We’d take an old mountaineer’s route called Resolution Arete.

He was prepared for the climb; I was not. Halfway up I took a long screaming fall and dangled upside down, staring at the ground spinning around more than a thousand feet beneath me. We were forced to spend a night shivering on the rock wall in the dark, watching the lights of the Las Vegas strip flicker below us.


Climbing is like speaking in public. When we’re not prepared, it can be quite scary. And when we are ready, physically and mentally, it can be an adventure of sheer joy.

An essential part of preparation is expanding our comfort zone. Alex Honnold, the super climber who scaled El Capitan without any ropes, wrote:

The only way to overcome fear is to slowly broaden your comfort zone. Take one tiny step outside of it . . . you get desensitized to that and then you can do something that is a little bit scarier . . . soon you are way past where you started and . . . you’re like, ‘Oh wow, cool! Look what I did!’

This applies to all skill development, including speaking. When we make time to practice for upcoming presentations and push ourselves, trying new things, feeling just a little bit of discomfort, we transform.

And with enough time and effort, on game day we don’t feel terror. We are filled with pride and joy.



We grow by slowly expanding our comfort zone. Practicing this regularly results in huge progress.

Speaking can be scary — even practicing, including watching videos of ourselves. Today’s challenge is a little nudge to expand this comfort zone.

Record yourself right now on your phone or computer. Casually answer the question: What is something scary that I have overcome? Take as long as you’d like to answer, talk for at least a minute, and then watch it back. You can do it!


Maryrose, Isabel, and I found a sunny spot to eat our lunch. We took a picture together with Ollie, relaxing and soaking in our adventure. We could see the rugged terrain for miles — and the Las Vegas strip below us.

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