Lessons from Rock Climbing Can Work Wonders in the Corporate World
Rock climbing can teach you a thing or two about climbing the corporate ladder
Thailand, was the destination I had chosen for a challenge. I was about to learn one of the most intense sports known to mankind – Rock climbing. Though my quest had nothing to do with my love for sports, it did however help me build a better career.
My guess was that after conquering the mean rocks of Tonsai in Thailand, climbing the corporate ladder would be a cake walk. For two weeks I hung out with a multi-national, multi-skilled group, climbing massive rocks. Despite my frustratingly slow progress, my rock climber friends never stopped encouraging me. Interestingly, I did manage to derive some career lessons while hanging from a rock, which I’m sure you will be able to put to some good use too.
1. Your Life, Your Goals
is easy to have unrealistic expectations while you look at others. Evaluating your own strengths and weaknesses is important. In rock climbing you have to create goals that correspond to your own intrinsic abilities & desires. In your career too, having a rock climber’s approach might help.
Choose goals linked to your ability and desire. Stay away from becoming a subconscious slave to others’ achievements.
2. Trust Is Key
Rock climbing is a social sport and a team activity. While you climb, someone belays you, i.e. holds the rope and guides you.
You need to trust both the rope and the belayer. If you don’t, your time is spent worrying, rather than climbing.
Similarly at work, you need to be able to trust your team. If you aren’t able to trust your team, then do something to change that or quit that team. Lack of trust does not work in anyone’s favour.
3. Overcome the Fear of Failure
Tobias, my rock climbing mentor, said that the fear of falling delays and can even stop your ascent. Isn’t that true of work and life too? After a point we start fearing failure. This results in us slowing down. We feel there is so much to lose that we’d rather maintain the status quo by doing mediocre stuff.
Sometimes we feel there’s so much to lose that we’d rather maintain status quo by doing mediocre stuff.
But you always have the rope and the belayer (partner) to keep you safe. In the context of your career, our real anchors are family and friends. Failure can never be the end of life itself. But if you don’t take risks, failure might become inevitable.
4. Stay On Your Toes
Rock climbers will tell you that staying or resting on your toes is the best way to get a good grip, rest and conserve energy. That’s a good practice at work too!
But, in a professional environment it also means that you don’t take things for granted, and step
out of your comfort zone regularly. Because before you know it, smarter career
climbers will overtake if you stay too relaxed for too long.
5. Choose the Right Mentor
The unsung hero of rock climbing is the belayer, the one holding the rope and guiding the climber. The belayer takes significant responsibility for the climber’s safety, yet does not intend to control the climb in anyway. In my mind, that’s the role a mentor should play in your career. It might be a good idea to seek game-changing mentors and then invest in that relationship.
6. The Importance of Resting
Climbers take a rest day after every two or three days of climbing. That’s how most climbing enthusiasts build their muscles, re-invigorate their spirit and improve their fitness level.
You may feel you are getting ahead by working long hours and staying connected even on weekends. But you are not! You’re only headed towards a burn out. New ideas, new energy and new conviction come with mindful resting.
Most top performers respect rest as much as they respect work, and you should too.
7. Learn & Grow Within a Community
Rock climbers are a community. That not only aids learning, but also gives climbers a sense of belonging.
It’s a great idea to be a part of a community that you can trust and one that can in turn fuel your self-development.
Life and outdoor adventures can teach you a great deal about success and growth, but my personal favourite is rock climbing.
Go on. Climb that corporate ladder like a pro. And when you take over as CEO, don’t forget to offer me a job :P
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