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Climbing vs life

Climbing vs Life

Climbing is more than just body strength and technique. Success in climbing also relies heavily on the mentality of the climber and many of the mental skills can be applied to almost all aspects of life.

This video from Matthew Childs and ted.com outlines a few basic principles of climbing.

1 – Don’t let go

Determination is everything in climbing. Mental strength rules over almost everything and knowing how to push yourself to your absolute limit is crucial to finally send that project.

“Often you think of letting go way before your body does”

This can be applied to life too – If you aren’t achieving what you want to achieve, chances are you’re giving up too early.

Don’t let go, you might surprise yourself.

2 – Hesitation is bad

The longer you hesitate or wait between moves, the harder that move becomes both physically and mentally.

Keeping the momentum up when climbing will help prevent you from pumping out whilst thinking about the next.

Don’t give yourself chance to doubt yourself and your ability and take this mentality home with you.

3 – Have a plan

Plan ahead and know the route you are climbing. Where possible you should get intimate with the route and know what to expect at every section of the climb. Avoid surprises and plan rest spots.

This applies to other areas of life too. Take control and plan accordingly. Knowing what you need to do to succeed beforehand will make success more realistic.

4 – The move is the end

Overall planning is important, but don’t forget to think about and treat each move individually. Think about all of the pieces of the puzzle.

Plan the ending, but don’t forget the next move ahead of you, keep moving.

5 – Know how to rest

Resting is important to climbing. Whether resting between problems, or finding rest spots on the wall, knowing how and when to rest and how long to rest for is crucial to getting the most out of your body. Not taking enough rest is a sure-fire way to burn yourself out prematurely.

This applies to life too, rest is important to recharge the mind and body.

Play the long game – know when to rest.

6 – Fear Sucks

“Fear sucks because you are not focussing on what you are doing, but you are focussing on the consequences of failing at what you’re doing.”

Fear is a distraction to climbers. If you are afraid of what might happen, chances are your fears will be realised. Mental strength is essential to focus on the most important thing in climbing – Climbing.

The same can be said for anything else in your life,

Fear will only serve to distract you from the plan you lay before yourself.

7 – Opposites are good

Sometimes the best way to climb a route isn’t always the most obvious. Learn a wide range of techniques for advancing up a route and don’t be afraid to try new techniques.

Use this technique in other areas of life too, don’t always assume that the most obvious solution is automatically the best solution.

Don’t be afraid to go against the grain and try something new.

8 – Strength Doesn’t always equal success

It is a well known to most experienced climbers that body strength doesn’t always mean success on a route. Successful climbing is a combination of smart technique, good mental strength and good body strength. Efficient, effective climbers are usually the best climbers.

Adapt this approach with day to day life too. Hard work doesn’t always equal success.

Learn not just to work hard, but to work smart. Efficiency is everything as long as you remain effective.

9 – Know how to let go

Contrary to the first principle of life vs climbing knowing when to let go or to give up ‘flogging a dead horse’ or ‘polishing a turd’ is crucial to success.

If you know you are going to fall whilst climbing, sometimes letting go and controlling the fall can be the best option.

As with life, sometimes, controlling a failure can be the best option.

Know when to let go and don’t hold on until the bitter end.


Do you have any life lessons from climbing?


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