Last week was Father’s Day and my oldest daughter surprised her husband and me with a ticket to ride the zip line at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The attraction is called the Flightline Safari, and riders travel up to 130 feet above the park and the animals for a 2/3 of a mile ride at a speed of something like 40 miles per hour.

It should be no surprise – I looked at the zip line ride as a metaphor for business and I thought about the following elements in both zip line and business experiences.


For zip lines and in business it is important to first identify and be aware of the risks, plan to mitigate those risks, and once your “safety” is reasonably assured, go for it!


Before taking the zip line ride, all riders must do 3 things. First, watch a training video. Everybody gets exactly the same information, every single time. Consistency and clarity of the information is important. Next, the instructors and safety crew put on the harnesses, double check the gear and make sure all participants’ questions are answered. Finally, there is a short 470 foot training line to ensure that all riders are safe and confident in their ability before they go on the longer course. We were able to preview the ride in a small and meaningful way. In business – not just initial training, but follow-up training is essential to long-term success.


With the training complete and our confidence boosted, a truck took us all through the Park and we received not only information about the ride itself, but other Park features as we passed several exhibits on the way, and the areas of the Park and the types of animals we would be “flying” over. Like all good business leaders and managers, the Park staff conducted continuous training and instructions. That way we could appreciate our experience more fully by understanding the total environment. In business, employees are more effective when they understand the purpose and broader context of their roles.


Our launch tower was very high off the ground. As we hooked up high in the air, our hearts were beating pretty fast. Intellectually, we knew it was going to be a rewarding and thrilling ride, but I’m sure each one of us had that tiny bit of doubt. Emotionally we were just a bit nervous. (Or at least we should have been).

The time had come for us to fly. With the loud click of the release and then the zipping of the metal pulleys on the cable, we took off. We were moving fast, but not so fast that we couldn’t see and enjoy the animals and the scenery below.

In business, leaders have an idea of what their futures might hold, but they still must live the experience. They must be trained first, and continue to teach, learn and improve. They must be prepared, fully aware, and maintain calmness in stressful situations. So if you are riding a zip line or running a business, be prepared, stay focused and enjoy the ride. It’s worth it!