Monday, April 11, 2011

When a Taco is Better Than a Burrito but Worse than a Tortilla

The last weekend in March, Wayne Kevin and I had an opportunity to go zip lining for the first time.

We had a great experience at North Georgia Canopy Tours, and I am so glad we had a chance to experience this adventure on a piece of land that used to be a poultry farm.

Before zipping, you have to take "ground school" in order to learn several safety components of the zip lining experience, like braking and how to "self-rescue" if you brake too soon (the brake is your hand) and end up short of your destination. These lessons take place on a mini zip line that is not very high off the ground.

At NGCT, the guides teach riders to brake using "Mexican Food" terms. Three weeks later, I still chuckle at how the braking methods parallel the ways in which we all tend to make our life choices.

The best brake is the "tortilla." In the "tortilla brake," the rider watches for the guide, who is standing at the "arrival" platform. When the guide begins making braking motions, the rider is supposed to take their gloved hand, keep it completely flat, and apply it to the steel cable to slow down the rider.

Parallel:  It is important to pay attention to the signs ahead of us and not react too soon or too late. In addition, utilizing a slow, steady, methodical approach to an upcoming change can make things easier on everyone.

Riders are advised to avoid a "taco brake." In a "taco brake," the hand is no longer flat on the cable, but rather folded over the cable like a taco shell. This is bad because it may make you stop too fast and may make you more susceptible to injury.

Parallel:  When your destination is closing in on you, it is sometimes hard to trust the lessons that others who have been down the same road tried to teach you. Until you have personally lived the experience, sometimes the "voice of experience" just isn't quite enough.

Lastly for the Mexican smorgasbord, riders are to not burrito brake. A "burrito brake" is where you grab onto the cable and surround it with your hand, like a burrito. Why is this bad? One reason is that you could pull your shoulder out of joint. A zip line rider reaches rapid speeds, and you don't want your hand to be affixed to the steel cable while your body tries to continue on its trajectory.

Parallel:  Practice is a good thing. When you watch people zip line but you haven't experienced it yourself, it's easy to say, "Oh, I'd never do a burrito brake." Reflexes (and a shot of adrenaline) can do funny things to your judgement. Businesses have Continuity and Contingency Plans (BCCP's) in case disaster strikes, and they are supposed to test their systems periodically. We would be wise to do the same as individuals.

If all the Mexican-food themed strategies in the world fail and you find yourself short of the platform, you get to "self-rescue." Another technique practiced at ground school, you turn so that your head is facing the platform (and your feet are facing the origination point) and pull yourself back up the cable, arm over arm.

Parallel:  You may find that you end up looking back where you started, having to work a lot harder than you anticipated to get to your destination. And you're going to need help in the form of a teammate to finish.

Have you ever had a "burrito brake" moment in your work or personal life? If so, what did you learn from the experience? 

1 comment:

Myron said...

Love the analogies; I guess I tortilla braked after my appendix surgery when a burrito brake may have been more appropriate, but who listens to doctors anyway? So true though; knowing how quickly/slowly to approach things is critical, and timing is everything. Great post, really enjoyed it!