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ADVENTURES ON THE JOB | EXAMPLES FROM LIFE

A Man With Missions

Jim Zuberbuhler, 38, Idyllwild

June 23, 1997

A few years ago, I knew that I needed to change direction and that I wanted more control over my life. For a dozen years, I worked as an educational marketer and management consultant. I was passionate about the work I was doing, but at the same time I had what seemed like a separate life. Outside of work, I loved to climb mountains, ski, scuba dive, rock climb, go mountain biking and travel to remote places with the Riverside County Sheriff's Mountain Search and Rescue Unit.

Volunteering with the rescue team led me to change my career. On a Monday morning, I would be back at my desk, perhaps a few hours after stepping out of a helicopter following a successful rescue mission, and I would feel this "moment of clarity."

I realized this came from being placed in a situation where the rules are very different and where I was required to push past my normal physical, emotional and even spiritual boundaries.

When you are 700 feet off the deck at the end of a 300-foot rope on a rock face at 2 a.m. and it is 25 degrees with a 40-mph wind in your face, you normally would ask, "Why am I doing this when I could be safely home in bed?" But you do not ask that question when you are completely focused on helping a hypothermic rock climber who has broken her leg and needs immediate medical attention. You trust your fellow team members with your life and disregard your frozen hands and aching muscles. The things that normally clutter our minds and lives are just not there. It is a wonderfully pure and focused experience.

Of course, not everyone can climb mountains or join a rescue team. I decided I wanted to find a way to give people the opportunity to have experiences that can be catalysts for positive growth and change. I created a company in Idyllwild called Out There, which provides conference and seminar services for groups who want to include an adventure component in their meeting agenda. We introduce "perceived risk" into people's lives and put them into situations where tough choices must be made, providing them with very real moments of clarity.

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