“No Way Down But Up”: 3 Lessons from Alex Honnold’s Climb of El Capitan
Alex Honnold is a mountain climber who takes risks – and what I mean by that is, he sometimes does a climb free solo.
For those of us that don’t follow mountain climbing, going free solo means climbing with no harness or rope.
And he did climb free solo in early June, all the way up the nearly 3,000 feet that is El Capitan, Yosemite’s famed wall of granite (that's it to the left. Yep.). A wall that is pretty much a pure, sheet of granite.
I can’t imagine ever climbing El Capitan myself, and that Alex climbed it in about four hours, makes it even more amazing. But I have climbed other mountains, and you have too.
Today’s blog post is about how Alex prepared for the climb, and how his steps can be useful to us, at work and at home.
The New York Times article about Alex’s climb said that climbing professionals called the feat “generation defining” and “incomprehensible.”
Here’s what Alex had to say about getting ready:
The physical side of it is quite a bit of work — going up on the wall day in and day out to memorize moves, to check different sequences and figure out the best way to use the holds that feels the most secure.
But the mental side is the bigger unknown. That’s the part where you just imagine the whole experience and process it for a long time and then wait until you’re ready.
Later in the article he said something else that’s also noteworthy:
He talked about his fears. The interviewer asked, “Were there any doubts going into it?
Not so much. A couple years ago when I looked at the wall it was more fear than anything. I’d look at it and be like, “Oh my God that seems daunting.” But because of all the preparation and all the time I’ve spent visualizing and imagining, by yesterday I was like, “This is going to be awesome.””
And he also said:
…physically I’ve been able to free solo this for eight or nine years. But it’s taken me a long time to feel safe enough on it that I want to do it.
Okay, to boil it down, with a hat tip to Eric Barker:
Step 1: Identify “the wall” of what you want to figuratively climb, at work or at home
Is it to get to the next level of your career? Be a better spouse or parent? “Show up” in a different way in building your community?
Go up that “wall” day in and day out
Memorize moves, check difference sequences, figure out what works best and feels most secure
Step 2: Visualize and imagine. Work on feeling good about what you want to do, about that “wall” in every way.
Work on your EQ. It has everything to do with climbing that wall.
Step 3: Remember that even though Alex did it free solo, he spent a lot of time getting ready. Mentally as well as physically.
Talk with friends, colleagues, peers, family members. Make a plan. Work your plan.
Get the insights and tools you need so you can step out of your comfort zone and ascend your “wall.”
Want to learn more about how EQ can help you get where you want to go, at work and at home? Contact Beth for a complimentary consultation to talk over your needs and if our programs might or might not be a fit for you.
Source: “California Today: An ‘Incomprehensible’ Climb in Yosemite,” by Mike McPhate, New York Times, June 6, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/06/us/california-today-alex-honnold-el-capitan-climb.html.