The Grand Canyon Skywalk, a place my father and I had the pleasure of visiting about ten years ago, is a giant horseshoe-shaped cantilever walkway outstretched over the Grand Canyon's west edge. The walkway surface and five-foot high walls around the interior and exterior perimeters are made entirely of thick, clear glass. The only opaque structural elements are the two massive 32"x72" box-beans underneath the transparent floor that allows the whole cantilever walkway to exist. In other words, when you are upon the walkway and standing in between the box-beams it feels as if you are hovering in the air—WAY up in the air.
Directly below the walkway is about an 800 ft vertical drop. And looking slightly ahead toward the Colorado River it is more than a 3,500 ft drop. If you are afraid of heights, this is not the place for you.
I remember seeing people white knuckled, clinging to the hand railing as if they would plummet to their death at a moment's notice. I also remember seeing a woman on all fours, crawling along the inside edge starring face down at a box-beam. It was quite impressive how intimidating the walkway was and the fear it created in people.
Obviously the walkway was strong enough to carry people—it was built to hold a 175,000 pound load and withstand an 8.0 earthquake within 50 miles. But even with those structural facts, you felt like Wile E. Coyote briefly suspended in air before gravity took hold. And that feeling really messed with people, including me.
But trusting in engineering, I separated myself from solid ground and rolled myself as fast as I could to the farthest point of the cantilevered horseshoe. En route to my destination, I passed the woman that was crawling. Reaching my desired vantage point, the crawling woman was only about ten feet behind me. When she got closer, she asked me a question that I will never forget. "How did you get out here so quickly?" My response, "Ma'am, I have not looked down yet."
Confidence is the feeling or belief that one can rely on someone, feel certain about the truth of something, or feel self-assured from one's own abilities or qualities. The word derives from the Latin word confidere meaning "to have full trust".
Being confident or having self confidence is an important thing. It requires trust in yourself and understanding of your surroundings. Confidence comes from positivity, optimism and mental steadiness. A confident person is able to show vulnerability and admit past mistakes. They are also aware of their weaknesses but have the ability to overcome them.
I can remember when Darin and I first conceptualized the BILLY Footwear idea. Darin had a leg up on me in the shoe creation process from a company he started called Swootz (swootz.com)—an experience that proved instrumental in getting BILLY Footwear moving in its first few months. I was at square one. I had an idea of how I wanted the shoe to function but in terms of the technical knowhow on how to get there, I was at a loss. Was this a weakness? Yes, most definitely. Was this a showstopper? Heavens no. It was simply an opportunity to learn and continue driving forward.
Fast forward a year later...
In May of 2016 we were finishing up our Kickstarter campaign that raised over $30,000. Our first round of shoes, which was two pairs of kid's, two pairs of women's, and three pairs of men's shoes was already in production and ready to ship our way. In one year's time we went from one prototype, to 50 samples, to 4,200 shoes ready for sale. My head still spins when I think about how quickly our company evolved. Are we happy with what we have achieved? Yes. Has it been a seamless ride? No, not even close. Have we made mistakes? Most definitely. Have we learned from our rocky experiences? Absolutely. Does our future look bright? Big time! Our future is so bright it makes me giddy.
What I'm trying to say is the path we set out upon has had its share of challenges. But instead of shaking our dream, we are galvanized all the more to pursue it. On a daily basis we inhale confidence and exhale doubt. And with the support from so many incredible folks such as yourself, how can we not?
On the Grand Canyon Skywalk I was asked how I rolled out to the end so quickly. It was not a matter of no fear—fear was definitely present—and you can ask the kaleidoscope of butterflies that were flapping away in my gut to prove it. I made it to the end of the horseshoe because of confidence; specifically, confidence in success.
Starting a shoe company is no different than hovering a mile above the Colorado River, right?
(Pictured above is the Grand Canyon Skywalk, located in Arizona, about two and a half hours east of Las Vegas, Nevada.)