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Learning to Trust

Yesterday I woke up at Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

How did I get to Phantom Ranch? Murray and I rode mules.

A mule is a cross between a donkey and a horse, but it’s as tall as a horse. So we were seven feet over the Grand Canyon looking down a mile deep.

They train these mules to walk on the edge of the Canyon. If you can imagine: You have no control, your life is entrusted to a mule, and you’re walking on the edge of the canyon just looking down and down and down and you could easily plummet to your death.

Before we got onto the mules, they told us: “Over the last hundred years, we’ve taken over a million people on mules to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and we’ve never lost one because of the mule.”

They gave us two pieces of advice:

  1. Trust the mule.
  2.  Trust your guides.

As I spent a whole day walking down to the bottom of the Canyon and a whole day walking back up, I realized what incredible advice that was.

Even though you’re not riding a mule through life, there’s a part of you that’s instinctive — that’s kind of like that mule. There’s a part of you that you need to learn how to trust, because as you walk through life it sometimes does feel like you’re looking down over a gaping canyon — that you could fall to your death as you take these risks, as you go anywhere that’s worthwhile in life.

As you look down at the bottom of the canyon, there are two responses:

  1. You can let the fear paralyze you.
  2. You can learn how to trust.

Learn how to trust the mule, and learn how to trust the guides. That mule really is that part of you — that instinctive part that knows what it wants, that knows why it’s here, that knows what to do even when your mind tries to convince yourself that you don’t know.

And the guides? Those are the people that you choose to support you on your journey through life.

Over the last two days, I really learned how to trust the mule and trust the guides. It took us maybe 15 minutes to really get used to the fact that the mule knew way better than myself.

The mule had walked this path thousands and thousands of times and it knew what to do. The mule was sure footed. It would stumble on occasion, but it’s got four legs, not two legs and it’s going to be OK.

All I had to do was let go, relax and enjoy the ride. I really think that that’s what we always have to do — let go, relax and enjoy the ride. Whether you’re going down a mile deep to the center of the earth in the Grand Canyon. Whether you’re going up into space — wherever it happens to be, or whatever it feels like to you.

It’s about letting go, relaxing and enjoying the ride. Learning to trust the mule or whatever that part of you is that knows better than your mind, that knows what you’re here to do, that knows how to do it, and learning to find the right guides in life and to trust them, to become coachable, to let go of feeling like you need to know everything. And to surrender into the unknown.

A friend of mine once had a coach by the name of Maria Lamb and Maria gave her some profound advice. She said, “Your success as an entrepreneur is based on your ability to take action toward that which you cannot see.”

So often the moment we step into the unknown, the moment we feel like we don’t have all the answers, the moment we let go of control — it’s like we freak out. That part of ourselves freaks out, because you can’t know what you have to gain. You can only know what you have to lose.

We’re built that way: To fear what we’re going to lose more than really move towards what we’ve got to gain. It’s so easy to let yourself psych yourself out, rather than to move forward when the reward is incredible. Waking up at the bottom of the Grand Canyon is incredible — to know that maybe a million people have made it to the bottom of the Grand Canyon at that particular location over the last hundred years and to see the world from a new vantage point. It’s incredible.

So I have officially become a master muleskinner in the order who’ve hiked the Grand Canyon trail.

So this is where I went just yesterday, and what I learned coming out the other side is to trust the mules and to trust my guides… and I invite you to do the same.

Now go out there and Live Your Message.

Love it? Hate it? Let me know...

  1. Valerie Avatar

    Love it Marisa!!! Thank you for sharing your inspiring message. What a great reminder as we start the New Year.

    1. Marisa Murgatroyd Avatar
      Marisa Murgatroyd

      You’re welcome! Happy new year!

  2. Jay Westbrook Avatar
    Jay Westbrook

    OMG – I love you & your message so much.
    You spoke about trust, so I’m sending this, from October – I thought you’d appreciate it. If it’s too long, just delete it:

    I got to speak, today, to a group of mixed-gender
    physicians & nurses about leadership, and how
    a friend who is a leadership coach has clients
    step into the ring with her horses, and get the
    horses to follow them without ever touching
    the horse.

    We talked about how you might develop trust,
    rapport, attentiveness, safety, respect, curiosity,
    authority, empathy, & other qualities integral to

    Someone questioned “safety,” saying that horses
    weigh 8-10 times what we do, and isn’t it our own
    safety we should be focused on.

    I responded that yes, we needed to be aware of our
    own safety, for if we’re reckless, others won’t want
    to follow us.
    But that being said, what if the horse has a history
    of abuse – if we approach it without a clear sensitivity
    to that possibility, the horse is unlikely to trust us
    enough to follow us.

    I then said, “since it’s not horses that we lead, but
    rather our colleagues, let’s see how this safety part
    applies. Everyone, take three minutes and make a
    written list of everything you either: 1) thought,
    2) did, or 3) didn’t do TODAY to avoid being raped.”

    The men looked around at one another, smiled
    tentatively, shrugged their shoulders, and only a
    few wrote anything at all on their paper. At the end
    of three minutes, every single one of the women
    were still writing furiously.

    I simply asked, “now do you understand the
    significance & role of safety in leadership?”
    The room was very quiet, as I asked my next
    question, “with your newly acquired sensitivity,
    how might you foster safety in order to be a more
    effective leader?”

    as always, in love & service – jay

    1. Marisa Murgatroyd Avatar
      Marisa Murgatroyd

      Wow, Joy, that’s a profound moment. Thank you so much for sharing. Being able to lead an animal (and human) requires a deep level of embodied leadership for sure!

  3. Elizabeth Haines Avatar
    Elizabeth Haines

    Loved the video and the messages….if I had heard your story, I might have gotten on that mule ride when I was there probably 10 years ago or so….it seemed way too scary for me and I heard that the ride might be painful on that tush of mine…and I also acknowledge that I trust myself and my judgment now so much more and have become more discerning about guides to trust (or not).

    1. Marisa Murgatroyd Avatar
      Marisa Murgatroyd

      Elizabeth – my tush was a little worse for wear… but sometimes a little pain can get you to a lot of beauty. <3

  4. Njideka Avatar

    As we move through all our training assignments it really is about “TRUST” and most of all believing in yourself and the process. What a great way to start this new year learning how to “TRUST” our talents and skills as we develop a product or program through the EPM that we can share and make a difference in the world. Thank You Marisa!

    1. Marisa Murgatroyd Avatar
      Marisa Murgatroyd

      It really is all about trust Njideka. Trust in yourself. Trust in others. Trust in what you have to offer and deliver. 🙂 So glad you’re finding that trust in your own process through EPM. <3

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