When surpassing oneself, letting go and accomplishment rub shoulders with fear, doubt, and questioning
A few weeks ago, I went ice climbing, an experience I wanted to have this year. I did sport climbing for years and now I wanted to try something new!
The concept of ice climbing is very simple: we just give a kick with all our strength with our crampons in the ice, push deeply the ice axes we have in our hands… and hope that these anchors will support us. Then we climb the icy wall, one step at a time.
It’s really anything but an easy sport. It’s physically demanding and mentally challenging – the fear of falling, the fear of not being able, etc.
The first two climbs I didn’t finish – I was trying to figure out the concept, the movements, how hard I should hit, I slipped, I didn’t know where to put my feet, or my hands.
All while trying to convince myself that it was a good idea to do this, my internal dialogue was telling me that it wasn’t that important to finish the climb, that I was already pushing my limits in many areas of my life… and part of me was praying that it would start raining or something so that I would have an excuse to stop!
But I kept going. The desire to give everything I have is very strong in me, even if sometimes the line between determination and relentlessness is very thin…
You should have seen my smile when I finished the climb on my third ascent! My smile was wall to wall and my enthusiasm was visible (and audible!) from metres away…
My joy was not only from having successfully climbed the ice wall, but also because I was proud of myself…
Climbing is a sport that requires you to surpass yourself. Like business.
As I hit the ice with all my strength with my crampons and ice axes, I gave it everything I had – all my strength, all my focus, all my intention.
Trusting that it will hold and that my equipment will support me to reach the summit I wanted to reach.
Having a partner who believes in us (as any good coach does!) encourages us to keep going. “Come on Sara, you can do it, one more small step,”.
Determination + trust + support = three key elements.
A personal challenge that has a great impact on professional life
The parallel with business is very easy to make. You’ve probably experienced times when you thought you couldn’t do or accomplish something: signing an important client, delivering a virtual event, presenting a proposal with confidence, etc.
We all have stories of surprising ourselves. But what do we do when fear (of failure, rejection, error, etc.) limits us, paralyses us, or when we feel stuck?
Here are my useful tips, both for climbing and for business!
No 1: B-R-E-A-T-H-E
When we’re nervous, anxious or worried, we tend to stop breathing. So first, take a deep breath.
No 2: Act like tomorrow doesn’t exist
Come back to the present moment; what’s happening now? What’s important right now? There’s a big trend towards mindfulness, and rightly so, it’s all in the mind. I invite you to watch the interview I had with Erin Urban on the fascinating topic of Mind-less-ness.
If I had let my brain dictate what would happen next, I would have given up on my second attempt to climb.
No 3: Speak to yourself in the third person
Several studies have shown the power of talking to yourself in the third person – it reduces performance anxiety and stress and increases positivity. For the brain, it’s like having another person talking to you and I can tell you that this stuff works very well: I tested it out when I was scared to death of falling off the ice wall!
No 4: Ask yourself the miracle question
Ask yourself the miracle question: “What is the smallest step I could take right now? This question allows you to take one small step (literally and figuratively), one small action in order to move forward, to progress. It’s amazing how this question (which is based on a lot of empirical research) allows us to see things we didn’t see before. By taking one small step, and then another, the little voice inside us subsides and we regain the momentum to reach the top.
No 5: Be sure to be well steered
Having someone who believes in us, especially in times when we believe less in ourselves, is crucial. I can assure you that without my climbing partner, I would probably have stopped after the second attempt.
And I use the term being well steered, having someone who pushes us out of our comfort zone, someone who sees our potential, our abilities, who doesn’t get caught up in our fears – and you know what… when I smile and rejoice like a four-year-old at my achievement, my climbing partner is also so happy, it’s contagious!
So the next time you feel stuck, anxious or out of options, take a breath, come back to the present moment, talk to yourself in the third person, take a small step – no matter how small – and call your coach – that’s what we’re here for!
And as Bill Gates so rightly put it, “Most people overestimate what they can achieve in one year and underestimate what they can achieve in ten years.”
You have the potential to achieve more than you think, one step at a time.
…because so much more is possible…
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