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Something you might not know about me: one of my biggest passions is rock climbing. In fact, one of the biggest reasons Pete and I decided to become digital nomads is because we wanted lifestyle where we can climb wherever and whenever we want.
Anyone who has gotten into climbing will know that it’s a sport that encapsulates your entire life – evenings are about training, weekends are about getting outdoors and climbing some real rock, and life is suddenly about how you can find more time to climb. In the three or so years since I started climbing, my perspective on life and my goals have shifted considerably – and for the better.
It’s taught me a lot about myself, about my goals, and about life. I want to share those climbing life lessons with you today.
1. Your friends are your lifeline
When you’re climbing outside, your belayer literally has your life in their hands. For those unfamiliar with climbing, belaying is a rope system in climbing. It’s an essential part of climbing – if you take a fall, your belay system allows your belayer to easily take the weight of your fall on the rope. I’m not sure I’ve explained that well but here’s the gist: friends are important.
I think this is a big part of the reason the climbing community is so supportive. You need friends, and you need trust if you’re going to get anywhere on the wall.
In life, the people that surround you are equally as important. We all need a support system to catch us when we fall, and to lift us up when we need it. In life, surround yourself with people who bring positivity and passion to your environment.
2. You need to invest to get the best out of yourself
Some investments are essential, and some investments can take you from amateur to pro. In climbing, we invest in ropes, quick-draws, and harnesses to keep us safe. The other investments – shoes, chalk, clothing – aren’t essential, but all help us be far better climbers.
It’s easy to people to think it’s smarter to save and scrimp every penny throughout life. This is especially true for us frugal living fanatics, but sometimes it can be more helpful to invest in yourself than to squirrel your savings away.
If you’re trying to start your own business and become an entrepreneur, invest in courses and kits that could take your business to the next level. Buy the things you need to make your lifestyle comfortable. If you’re interested in putting your money into stocks, invest in someone who can guide you and prevent you from losing everything. Sometimes we have to give a little to get a lot back.
3. It’s not about the destination
Our society is very much about the end goal. People want results, and they want them fast. It can be easy to get swept up in an idea and burn out because you’re not getting what you want quickly enough. Climbing teaches us to take a step back from that. To appreciate the struggle and the fun in hauling yourself up a seemingly impossible task, and celebrating the journey when you reach the top.
We can apply this mentality to so many parts of our lives for the better.
For example, if you’re trying to grow your business or blog, try not to get wrapped up in numbers and followers and income. Take time to appreciate growing a community, engaging with your followers and learning to hone your skills to produce some really amazing work. The results will come.
4. Fear is necessary. Accept it.
When I tell people I’m going to be climbing 30ft rock faces at the weekend, people always ask me, ‘but don’t you get scared?’.
Well, fuck yes I do. My heart beats out of my chest, my voice comes out as a whimper and let’s not even go into detail about the way my leg gets a mind of it’s own and starts doing an impressive Elvis-style shake when I’m trying to balance on an inch of rock.
The thing is, that fear is a part of the process. You don’t ignore it, you accept it. It is totally unnatural to be several feet off the ground and clutching at minuscule edges to haul yourself higher.
It can also feel totally unnatural to throw yourself into the unknown world of freelancing, location independence, alternative living, or throwing half your possessions out in the name of minimalism.
Success requires fear. It’s how we deal with that fear that is important. Don’t push it away, and don’t let it stop you. Stare that cliff in the face and say, “I’m gonna get on top of you, motherfucker”.
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5. Improvement takes time and practice
We can’t all be Chris Sharma our first time climbing, just like we can’t all walk into any of our dreams and rock them on day one.
Every successful person had a day one where they felt like a total newbie. Everyone needs time, practice, and more practice to master something (although, to be honest, most of us can’t be Chris Sharma, ever…).
If you’re just starting out at something, don’t get disheartened by comparing your beginning to someone else’s middle. This is one of the most important pieces of advice I’ve ever received – for climbing and for the rest of my life. Do you. Keep going. Look back years later and laugh at how far you’ve come.
Have you ever been so in love with a sport that it’s changed how you view life? Or, if that question is too deep, have you ever tried climbing?
What lesson have you learned that you’ve then applied to the rest of your life – let me know in the comments!