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Resilience Step #1

January 8, 2010

Get back on the horse.

The problem is not the falling, it’s the not getting back up. Everyone falls … no one is immune from the twists and turns of life. Things happen. Oh Well. So now what?

All through college, I was a tour guide at Hearst Castle. We went through a grueling 40 hours of training, with evening homework – memorizing where that carpet came from, what year that silver lamp was made, who that picture depicted. Our heads were swimming.

Even though I’d been on stage giving speeches since age 10, my first day as a tour guide was nerve-wracking. All that new information, the 55 tourists, and the “angels” coming along with me had me in overwhelm. At Hearst Castle, we never went out alone. We alternated each tour – first we would be the guide, and on the next tour we would be the guard at the end of the tour to keep stragglers moving along. During the first week as a tour guide, we also had “angels.” These were experienced guides who could jump in and take the tour in case we fainted or got completely lost. They were always very kind and compassionate helpers, and I appreciated them more and more as I worked at the Castle.

My first tour was on its way up the hill. As I stood in position, I noticed more than one “angel” was with me. Then another, and another. Some of the real guards at the Castle also were accompanying me. This was a nightmare! Did they really think I was that bad? My heart raced and I felt frozen to the handrail.

Then I saw why. Hearst Castle is a property with many stairs, and it isn’t an easy walk if you’re not in shape. One by one my tour struggled off the bus. There were a dozen people with walkers, one woman in a wheelchair, people with hearing problems, canes, a blind man… all over the age of 65. I went numb. One of the more seasoned “angels” sidled up next to me, patted my arm, and said, “Sweetie, just let’s get them through. That’s all you have to do. Minimal information. And keep moving on time. Let us worry about them.”

75 minutes later, I breathed again. My head was spinning. I couldn’t remember anything I had said or done. I didn’t care. I was done. I was already writing a resignation letter in my head. I stood, nodding and shaking 55 hands as they got on the bus, exclaiming their thanks and awe.

I trudged back to the guide shack, went into the ladies room, and sat on the counter crying. I was devastated. I knew I was a good speaker. I’m so at home on stage. I felt like a complete failure.

There was a knock at the door. One of the men had sneaked into the ladies locker room to get me. “Wash your face and get out here!” I came out, red-eyed, exhausted. And he said, “You are going out in 5 minutes. Let’s go.” I protested that I was supposed to have another 20 minutes before going on tour again as a guard. His eyes twinkled, “Nope. This next one is yours. Come on darlin’ – you can do this. I’ll be your guard.”

I took a deep breath, brushed my hair and wiped off makeup under my eyes, all the while thinking, “What’s HE so cheerful about. I never want to see this godforsaken place again!”

And what a gift he gave me. As I steeled myself, the bus squealed to a stop. The doors opened. And out came… 55 Happy, Hearty, Healthy Eagle Scouts! I was a green-eyed, strawberry blonde, healthy 20 year old. And I had an audience of polite 16-17 year old boys with full raging hormones. They were complimentary, funny, flirty, and took more pictures of me than of the property. It was a 75 minute romp. I kept them on time and tried to give a tour. And oh well! I still smile when I think of it.

What’s the lesson? We can be an angel for each other. We can see the possibilities in the next hour, the next day, the next attempt that someone else might not see. Be that man who came and got me; the man who had to have talked someone else out of that tour in order to give it to me. Because of him, I had the best and the worst tours of my entire career in the same morning. He gave me back my confidence, and helped me find my own Resilience. He got me back on the horse!

What’s YOUR story?


© 2010 Beth Terry Seminars, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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