Many years ago I wrote a book entitled, Climbing Your Best. It was a guide to assess your strengths and discover your weaknesses. The book then gives you tools to develop a training plan to improve your performance. As soon as that book was being published, I knew there were pieces missing. What piece? The book talks about strength and flexibility, technique, but what it doesn’t go into great detail about is goal setting, mental training and uncovering mental weaknesses. It doesn’t go into a great depth of how to work with these elements.
Over the number of years since the publication of that book, the area of mental training has been primary for me. Yes, I still work with a lot of folks no the strength and technique side of the equation, but in my own experience have noticed how essential ongoing growth in my mental emotional landscape is to actually finding fulfillment with climbing.
The industry promotes a particular idea of what being a “great” climber means. What being a “good” climber means. Then there are all the average climbers. And if I asked you what you thought a great climber is or who a great climber is, you would probably start naming the names of people who have completed amazing feats… you would consider the Tommy Caldwell and perhaps Alex Honnold even though you personally are quite happy sticking to the short boulder problems you do and you do not necessarily ever want to go and free solo anything longer than fifteen feet.
Here’s the problem… what these climbers love doing, what the industry finds attractive, may not be what you find amazing about climbing. If you chase the industry dreams, you may end up less happy. Let me tell you my story.
It’s a number of years ago and my partner and I were sponsored by a couple of climbing companies. We were sponsored to influence clients and gyms to buy products from the company by being good ambassadors in the industry. The sponsorship consisted of product we could use personally. In our most recent contract negotiation, my partner was offered money to climb a particular route. Success on this route would mean our car insurance would be paid for the year. Not substantial money, but more than we were getting from that company.
My partner was frustrated. The sequence seemed more than challenging. It seemed confounding. The wind was whipping around him and the stick clip he had left on the bolt below would whip up and hit his foot occasionally. Hours ticked by for him and his efforts seemed more and more reckless.
Finally he came down, we lowered to the dogs and made our way back to the car. He hadn’t enjoyed anything about the route, the experience. Still, we rested and went back another day. This second experience was no better. More wind, more discomfort. I fortunately did not have to belay, I managed to take the dogs and have a better experience for both of us. Climbing this route would be work, and not the kind of enjoyable inspired route we as climbers seek. It was going to be something he did because he had to do it.
As we discussed this, I said, we have never climbed for money. In fact, we have had little to no foreseeable money and still chosen our commitment to climbing because we love it. If you don’t love climbing this route, then we should just move onto something you do want to climb. That’s what we did. You see we didn’t sleep in a van because it was comfortable and fun. We slept in a van because it meant we could go climbing. It reduced the need to work, to make money. To climb to make money was not congruent with our WHY for climbing. The intention in this situation was not the pursuit of an experience, it was for money. And that intention was only creating dis-ease with the experience.
Understanding your WHY is important when goal setting because it is very easy to take on the industry why or your climbing partners’ why. So how do you figure out your why? Answer the following questions and you may begin to see what you value.
Consider the following words and when a word resonates, provokes a positive response, circle it. If another word comes into your mind, then write it down.
There are many more possible words, so if you did think of something that is not here write it down. If you have more than five words, see if they fit together. For example, nature and outside are similar, or adventure and exploration may be considered alike. List the like words together and then select the one that resonates the most for you. Continue until you have no more than three key words. These three words can be considered you key values. These are the words that must be aligned with your choices and actions.
This exercise is one piece of many pieces you may find helpful in discovering the motivations in your choices. And remember, so many things you do each day are a choice, aligned or misaligned.
Looking for more… connect and we can discuss.