Not everyone can be THE BEST, but everyone can BE THEIR BEST.
To be your best doesn't mean making the podium. It doesn't mean sending the hardest routes.
It means doing what you love, what excites you. It means doing the best routes you can do. It means that you do not let the voice of fear and self doubt to rule your life.
What is at the core of your soul? Do you understand what you are supposed to do on this earth?
I don't mean the things that you do to get through the day. I mean --
What is the thing, the gift you have that you are supposed to share with the world?
Getting to know your strengths.
You can listen to the following recording or just read the description below.
Take a moment to get quiet, to turn off the music, the TV in the background. Have a pen or pencil and a notebook ready. It is preferable to write this than to type it. With eyes closed, and the body well supported, take 10 breaths allowing the inhale and exhale to balance. Sense the breath move all the way into the abdomen and feel the body relax. Notice the thoughts that move through your mind. Allow the thoughts to be there, just don't follow them. To the best of your ability, be a witness rather than the thinker. Non judgement if you do follow a thought, just come back to the position of noticing.
After a few minutes, in this state of awareness, allow yourself to contemplate, experience the moments where you have gone through struggle, where you have felt the chips were down and you were challenged. Re-live the experience or experiences. Allow the focus of your awareness to rest on how you move through the challenge. As if watching a movie, witness how you navigate the challenges. What qualities did you bring to bear? What attitude, what resources did you draw upon? What intention did you set for yourself that propelled you forward?
When you have fully re-experienced these moments and have identified, noticed the qualities, open your eyes and write them down in your journal. Be as descriptive as you need. Allow yourself time to really explore these qualities, these strengths and positive intentions that you have.
If you experience yourself thinking thoughts of self doubt, or that perhaps you are exaggerating, it doesn't matter. Write as if you are writing about someone else. In fact, it could be helpful to exaggerate the qualities.
As you review what you have written, consider that these strengths are your gifts. It is these vary gifts that you are meant to strengthen and to use to express yourself fully in this world. It is when you call on these qualities that you are your best self. So continue to strengthen them and continue to use these strengths to work with your weaknesses. In my own life, my greatest weakness is a fear of not being of value, of failing. But my greatest strength is my ability to see possibility, to be tenacious. When I use my tenacity and dream of possibility, it becomes easier to overcome the fear of failing or of not receiving the recognition I long for.
I hope this has helped you see a path forward too... Good Luck.
It's the season. The granite still has the cold bite in the early morning. The sun warms the skin and at least along the coast, the bugs are at bay. Why then, oh why, am I so unmotivated to climb?
One of my climbing partners had a goal he pursued relentlessly, dedicating himself to the gym four or five times a week for months. Finally, spring arrived and he went to Smith Rocks with attaining his goal of 5.13a. Within a matter of days, he had done it. In fact over the course of two and a half weeks, he managed to send a 5.13b and a 5.13c. He returned triumphant and complete.
In the days that followed he stopped climbing, his dedication to the craft waining. Within a month, he started considering giving up climbing all together. He seemed unhappy, drinking more and climbing even less.
To create that inspiration, it is essential to know what give the process meaning. Test yourself with these questions:
1) Who do I love climbing with? How can I create that sense of connection with him/her?
2) What route or climbing area is so aesthetically beautiful that I cannot help but be inspired by it's line?
3) What project or climbing adventure will inspire the story I want to share with my future children, my friends when I am too old to climb?
4) How will I grow from trying a route or boulder problem that currently maybe doesn't inspire me? Or maybe it's a climbing trip I need to grow from this comfort zone?
5) How can I inspire others? Sometimes it is about giving away what we long for the most,
The granite was sharp, biting into the skin with a burning sensation. She continued to look around her for the next hold. The route was pretty easy, but the terrain was new to her. This was the first time she had ever gone climbing, invited by a friend and she had said yes without really thinking about what it would mean.
But she was hooked. It wasn't the sunny day, the cool people she was hanging out with, or even the route. It was a feeling in her heart. It was as if she knew who she was. Focus, present to the experience, no attachment to a specific outcome, curious. All of these elements allowed her to feel like nothing else mattered. She was in relationship with her Self completely. The voice inside her that continually measures how to respond to the current situation was quiet. Because the voice was in awe.
Success is more than getting to the top, it is being in love with the process.
Take a moment to be quiet and reflect on the most memorable experience you have of climbing. Consider the moment in fullest detail. Remember it as if you were in that moment again. Sense the feelings it is bringing up for you, feel the sensations in your body, the sounds. Steeped in the memory, now ask yourself what does climbing mean to you, in only three words - what does climbing mean to you? Trust the first three words you hear. If you want to think about it, you will lose the truth. Trust what comes and then reflect on how the three words relate to you and climbing.
For example, you may have a words like connection. But as you reflect on connection, it may be a connection to something primal within yourself. Not necessarily connection to other climbers. Once you know these words, you can now make sure you create climbing opportunities that allow you to experience that. It may be somewhat challenging to experience that connection to something primal when you are climbing in a gym with loads of people and loud music. Doesn't mean you wouldn't do it, just means the expectation for what the experience will offer is realistic.
And there were things for me.
I choose the warm ups and we went around the other side of the boulder for the routes and I noticed the damp ground and thought with frustration, "dang, we should have brought a tarp." Then looking at the steep overhanging lines, I noticed the wetness of the holds, and the closeness of the edge of the pond to spotting the top out. But trying to be supportive, I just got ready to climb. Those first holds were pretty wet, and the steepness was pretty challenging. After a few tries, I gave up on the start holds, feeling like all the desire zapped out of me after the first moves. I watched as there was some hesitancy in the others on the top out moves. "Hmmm, that's where I will be pumped and scared of falling," I thought. My frown probably deepened. It was then that the snakes sunning themselves on the trees leaning over the pond behind us were noticed. Deep breaths... not a fan of snakes. These were not poisonous to my knowledge and seemed to be sunning themselves contentedly, but still, not a fan.
Still I tried to engage in support for others and even trying to assure them that I was game to keep trying, I discussed the need for me to bring more grrr through the body, not just the upper arms on the route. Every few moments distracted by whether these snakes were moving closer or keeping their distance.
Then more people arrived, more crash pads covered the ground, more conversation, more climbers vying for turns on the same routes. And of course admiration for the snakes and more snake conversation. Sigh....
I didn't send. Not even sure I could say I enjoyed the day. The truth is, I did not take responsibility for my day. I mean, I did to some degree. I showed up, I climbed and supported others. But I didn't look at what I wanted to climb, I didn't build excitement about the possibilities for climbing that day. I just tried to climb and be supportive of others. But others can't get excited for you if you are not excited yourself.
You get back what you give. We are the creators of our experience.
My day was meh because I approached it WITHOUT excitement and a sense of engagement and possibility. I approached climbing that day like it was just something I was going to do, like I might approach doing the dishes, rather than how I would prepare a meal for friends and family. Sure my focus was on the other people I was with, but that only put a sense of pressure on them to 'make my day.'
Lesson learned - Own it, take responsibility for your experience.
Neurons that fire together, wire together. There is a TED talk. Another name for it is neuroplasticity.
In the book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg discusses this concept as the root of making positive changes in your life. It is hard to stop doing things, unless you do (choose to do) something different. Replacing an action with a new action is key.
Consider what you do when you fall. What is the first thing you do when the climbing gets hard? Look down? For a lot of people this would be the habitual action - look for where you will fall. Then you fall. The more times you repeat this - feel insecure, uncertain, look down, fall. This is repeated and becomes the habit that can prevent you from climbing harder.
Try this... just go to your local gym and watch people. Watch the same person climb a number of routes. Select a climber who is trying something that they will fall off or find very challenging and may fall. Notice if they look down OR if the fall trying.
Then notice your own choice.
Yup... this is what we have evolved into. A world where we perpetuate the idea "I am the most important person and what I think is right. As right, I should get my way."
I was making some copies before camp one morning and I overheard Dalhousie University's women's soccer coach, Cindy Tye say,
"The world owes you nothing."
When I heard this, I was in my own little shi** storm of resentment and complaint about something. It made me stop and realize she is absolutely right. There but for the grace of God go I.
Life is a gift. You do not need to believe in God to understand that life is a privilege many will no longer share this morning. Your child is a gift and that gift can be taken from you at any time. Your home is a gift. Being born in a country that doesn't suffer a water shortage or a world not at war, or with a parent who cares about you... these are all things not everyone gets.
My suggestion to those (and myself when I forget this), I may not like something, AND that is ok. It is then MY responsibility to change. I can choose something different. Expecting everyone else to do what I want is very arrogant and self centred. As said by a famous president, JFK, "Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country."
"I don't have a dream, a goal." she said.
I knew exactly what she meant. As a woman who climbed and, yes achieved some significant ascents, I had only dreamed the possibility of them when a man, my husband, had believed in me. These were not really my dreams as much as they were his dreams.
Now entering midlife, with possibly as many years ahead of me as behind me, I ponder what I dream of achieving now. It is limited. There is no relationship in my life directing me. It seems hard to know what I really want now and whether what I want will be possible as I step into unknown territory where my body is changing so much I am not sure about it at all. This has me reflecting on what is required to dream the dream.
5. Joy is essential to doing anything for any length of time. People who climb mountains and motivate themselves to tolerate the discomfort, the fear, the loneliness all on a much deeper level experience joy. Joy comes in the deep connections we make when we share our story. Joy arises in the beauty that we witness through the process. Joy is in our hearts when we experience our own strength of will and overcome our self doubt.
Children's bodies do not have bones that have fully grown and hardened. This means that the tendons can become so strong that rather than a muscle injury, the climber will experience a break at the tendon attachment site. This attachment site is often a growth plate area - meaning that the climber will have an injury that will impact their bodies movement for the rest of their life.
The place - Hueco Tanks.
The partner - my son, a stronger climber than me.
The story - humility.
I used to climb well. Some would say I still do. It is a perspective thing. I have one friend who tells me to never let anyone else define me. And she is right. The last time I was in Hueco was 2002. My son, seven months old and my body just recovering from breast feeding.
The time before that, 1998. I sent a V7... my first V7. From there, the grades continued to increase. Even after the 2002 visit, I sent harder problems. So imagine my shame, my disappointment, to be humbled by a V2 on our first day. And then on the third day to have a guide suggest the day will be too tough for me.
Rationally, I know I am many years and many 'non-training' days from 2002. Or even 2003. I made other choices with my time and energy. I do not regret those choices. I now have a very accomplished son who seems to be pretty mature and well adjusted. In my view, the best project I have ever embarked upon. I know my body is aging and it hurts more that it used to. It isn't as free moving as it used to be. It doesn't recover as well.
But I still felt humbled. I felt more than that, I felt disappointed.
And I could have walked away. After all, this body will not get younger, no matter how well I take care of it. I could have rationalized the end of my life as a climber. I could have rationalized all the choices that have led to this particular outcome.
Instead... I practiced RESILIENCY.
Resiliency is ADAPTABILITY. It is strength in action. It is not giving up. It is TRYING again, IN A DIFFERENT WAY.
The adaptability may be in how I define my success as a climber. It maybe in how I show up as a climber. It is shifting my expectations in order to shift my experience.
I never climbed in order to be the best at it.
I always climbed intrigued by how to move my body between the holds. That I can still do.
What I need to shift is my expectation of how those moves are graded by a subjective system. If I can't get away from my expectations around grades, then I can make up my own routes that don't have grades. I can worry about moves rather than routes.
What matters is that I still climb for a reason that matters to me. That makes me feel happy.
What is is about climbing that makes you happy? How do you use that to continue to strengthen your resiliency?