We had the good fortune of connecting with Tisha McCombs and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Tisha, how do you think about risk?
I’ve long lived by the mantra “Be afraid, but do it anyway”. I believe that the most meaningful, impactful, and joyful parts of our lives lie on the other side of fear. That could be fear of risking failure, judgement, vulnerability, change, and any number of others things. I don’t live without fear of risk, I just don’t let it stop me from moving ahead. This certainly came into play when I decided at different times to start my two different businesses and to step away from my previous career in executive leadership. This transition brought with it risk of financial hardship along with the others I listed above, but I really didn’t feel any hesitation around those risks. A childhood of struggle and tribulation from very early on helped me learn at a young age that being resilient and adaptable can help you move through nearly any struggle, so those skills have helped remove any hesitation related to risk from my adult life. If something doesn’t work out, I know that I’ll find another way to be happy and successful. For me, the only real risk is to let fear stop you from going for each and every opportunity you can dream up.

If you can humor me, I’d also like to respond to the question about being a parent. Feel free to use whichever content/response you feel fits the piece the best:

The responsibility of raising a son pulls heavily on me. The weight of knowing that I am solely responsible for shaping this young human into the person that he will become for the rest of his life. The knowledge of all of the things that I want to teach him, hard fought battles I want to save him, valuable lessons that came at a price that I want to keep him from having to pay because, when it comes right down to it, I think I paid enough for both of us.

But, the question that’s always been on my mind more than any other is how do I teach him these things? How do I give to him the strength that I gained from fighting through an unstable, fearful childhood? A childhood without the things that it is easy to feel all children are entitled to, such as food, reliable shelter, running water at home, the security of living in the same house for more than a few months at a time, a parent there to see them on the bus in the morning and to be there after school, and perhaps most sadly, what oftentimes felt like without love.

While I certainly would have changed it at the time if given the chance, my early years shaped me and defined my future in a way that I am now grateful for. Those years taught me independence, resiliency, and adaptability; they gave me grit and strength and the knowledge to know that no single situation defines who I am and what I can do. Those years ingrained in me that when things get tough, the only way out is through; through fear, beyond pain, past loneliness, and right on by failure. And that on the other side of all of those things are success, passion, happiness, fulfillment, self-validation, and love.

As a parent to a 16 year old son that is quickly being molded into the man he will one day be, the best answer I have come up with for how to teach my son the things that my hard fought childhood brought to me is through the wilderness. Backpacking trips that teach him to place value on the essential things in life and leave the rest behind or else he’s going to carry the weight of them on his back up the mountain. Slot canyon trips that teach him that the world is so much bigger that the current path he can see in front of him and that he has to remember to look up and around and sometimes even behind him to see the beauty and power of where he is. Mountain bike rides that teach him that he will get out of life exactly what he puts into it because he has to pedal himself up that hill before he’s able to come down it. Canyoneering adventures that teach him that unexpected things happen that he’s not prepared for; that the route is sometimes longer and harder than expected, that there’s less water and more climbing than planned, that there are spots that he can’t make it through alone and force him to rely on partners, and most importantly, that once he starts down a route the only thing to do is to keep moving forward through whatever the canyon puts in his path and that eventually the narrow walls will open up again and there will be sunshine and happiness and relief and accomplishment waiting for him as rewards for what he endured.

So while I live with the uncertainty of many decisions I make as a parent, I also live with the hope that with the wilderness as my classroom, I can give my son the gifts of tenacity, grit, persistence, resiliency, and confidence to know he can take on whatever life throws at him, and that regardless of how tough or lonely or scary things get, I’ll be there on the other side of that mountain or trail or canyon with open, loving arms waiting to cheer him on…and to plan the next adventure.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m a writer that uses words to pry beneath the surface of who we are and why we are. I pride myself on conveying the essence of human nature and emotion in a way that inspires others to look inward without fear of what they will find and with strength to know they can change anything they see if those so choose. I try pose the question as often as possible, in a way that invokes thought and introspection, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” I’m proud of the lives my coaching has helped change, of the stories of past clients that I have worked with that went on to chase their dreams without letting fear halt their progress, and of the quiet moments when friends and associates share that something I wrote resonated deeply with them and helped them feel a little more seen.

I’m also an adventure guide, and I focus on helping people experience an outdoor activity for the first time. So, maybe your first time camping, first backpacking trip, first time riding a mountain bike, or many other activities. I believe that time and experiences in nature can change a change, and I love being the conduit to help encourage and empower others to experience the power of the outdoors for themselves.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Well, I’m a full-time nomad that travels the country in my 4×4 van, so I don’t live in a specific area to invite friends to visit. If I were to have a friend want to meet me somewhere, I would invite them to meet in the San Rafael Swell area of eastern Utah. We would camp beneath towering red rock canyon walls and spend our days drinking coffee on warm slickrock while looking out over the brightening horizon, exploring narrow slot canyons, searching out native rock art panels, and taking in the peace that the desert offers.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
While we had a complex, often challenging relationship, my mom likely deserves most of the credit for the person I am today. She taught me early in life to love the open road and seek new horizons, to be comfortable with and able to adapt to consistent change, to be self-reliant and able to fix something broken in my house or vehicle just as easily as most women fix their hair, and a lifelong passion for belting out Eagles songs as I cruise down the highway on 20+ hour road trips to go see something new just because I can. My mom passed away last year, and, as often happens, it’s only been after her death that I’ve been able to see through the deep murkiness of our relationship to realize the true depth, both good and bad, that she had on who I am now.

Website: www.tishatalks.com

Instagram: Tisha.Talks

Image Credits
Tisha McCombs, Joe Hendricks/Elope Telluride, Adam King/Adam King Photography, Tom Helbig,

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