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10 Lessons from Rim 2 Rim

by Hilary Bilbrey

I’m not going to lie. Much of my childhood and well into my adulthood, I was held back by a crippling fear of, well, everything. There was head trash around not being enough, being too much, not being an athlete, getting hurt –- I could keep going. Any of this sound familiar?

A few years ago, I decided I was exhausted from being afraid all. The. Time. That’s when I remembered a conversation on an airplane 10 years earlier with a man named Paul. He was an adventurous entrepreneur changing the world through his innovation and philanthropy. He was on his way to hike rim to rim in the Grand Canyon. That's leaving from one rim, hiking all the way to canyon floor, then ascending to the opposite canyon rim.


It sounded incredible. And like a massive reach. Only 5 percent of Grand Canyon visitors venture below the rim at all, and only 1 percent tackle the full "Rim 2 Rim" challenge. Not to mention, at the time I was deathly afraid of heights. But the seed was planted. Here was the thing to jolt me out of my stasis.


I put my stake in the ground -- public commitment! -- and invited everyone on my social media feed to join me on this hike in November of 2019. Twenty people raised their hands. Only four kept the commitment, including RSP's very own Wendy Wiesman.


We did it.

This trip made me a believer in how pushing yourself physically creates clarity, confidence, and honest-to-god life breakthroughs. Here are my top 10.

  1. Be curious and connect with others. Listen. People’s stories will inspire you. Without Paul on the plane, there would have been no R2R for me.

  2. There are people in your life who will always show up – no matter the challenge. Love them hard. Thanks, Wendy!

  3. Once you set a goal, accept no excuses, no back doors. Training was just hard work. No way around it.

  4. 20 started; 5 went. Keeping your commitments leads to higher self-trust and confidence.

  5. Fear is a matter of perspective. Decide to grow out of it.

  6. Beauty is all around. Take time to breathe it in. From sunrise to sunset, be filled with wonder.

  7. Anyone can start. The guts are in the finish. The last 6-mile ascent in the GC is why we show up. It tells us what we are made of.

  8. Incredible people with incredible stories are found doing incredible things. I met AMAZING hikers along the way: a recovering alcoholic who now runs adventure challenges for families in recovery. A woman who lost 100 pounds after battling cancer twice and hiked to celebrate. A man who was suicidal and in pain the year before and trained to find hope.

  9. We don’t leave people behind when they are willing to try.

  10. Your body is amazing. Fuel it and treat it with respect.

I can honestly say my life has dramatically changed for the better since I completed R2R. Accomplishing this hike, overcoming my fear of heights, and connecting with people and nature on such a profound level: I returned a more confident, badass woman, ready to claim the life that was always meant to be mine.


There is of course much more to the story, and I'll tell you over a glass of wine sometime. But for now, keep setting your own goals. Crush them. Then set the bar higher.


Hilary Bilbrey is a founding Lead Voice of RSP. She is also a life coach, mentor, and leader who helps women, girls, and company talent find and use their superpowers, amplifying -- and getting! -- what they want most from their work and lives. You can find Hilary leading RSP classes and cohorts, asking the poignant questions at Happy Hour, and cohosting the Decided Heart video series.


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