While taking a breather, I observed other folks as they attempted this same route. Some guys were like me, clueless as to how to make it past the starting point. Then there were those guys who had a lot of muscle power to grip the holds long enough to make it to the next one and complete the climb. This climbing style was of no use to me; I didn’t learn much from them because I don’t have that kind of muscle power to pull my body weight. Then I noticed this woman try it. She was so nimble on the wall - she completed the climb. But she didn’t rely on strength, nor did she run out of it. She was able to take her time, observe every hold, carefully secure her hands, shift her body weight appropriately to reach for the next hold and did that over and over until she made it to the top. It was marvelous! I had never seen such graceful climbing before.
The reason she was able to climb it, was not because she was a woman and light-weight. It was because of how she technically worked on each hold and figured out the adjustments she needed to make by shifting her body weight, twisting her legs so that the whole time, her legs carried her weight while her arms and fingers allowed her to move to the next hold easily without getting fatigued.
I had been climbing for more than a year by then. But on this day I truly learned my climbing style: Study the route first. Anticipate where you might have problems along the way. Take a deep breath at each hold. Don’t fatigue the arms. Twist the body so that the legs are always carrying your weight and not the arms. Don’t force yourself to complete the climb. The goal is to make it easy on you.
Doesn’t this sound familiar when you hear an Entrepreneur talk about what you must do to be successful. The first thing they tell you is to be persistent. I was persistent about completing that V2 blue route. I came back to it each day because I was dissatisfied. Ask an entrepreneur what keeps their fire burning and they will tell you that it has to do with the feeling of satisfaction that they needed to fulfill. I not only observed what I was doing incorrectly, but I was able to see what people were doing right, whether they were power climbers or nimble climbers. Not all entrepreneurs are successful on their first try. They learn from their mistakes as well as from the mistakes of others. It is true that the real pleasure of climbing is when you take each step on the climbing route on its individual merit and solve it to move on to the next. That’s why climbers call the routes a “problem” - because they look at it as a challenge that can be solved. And there are several ways to try a route, but only a few ways to solve it. Similarly, entrepreneurs are constantly trying to solve a challenge. Any new technology or product doesn’t become an overnight success. It becomes successful only after a number of methods have been tried and failed. Entrepreneurs that do succeed are able to do so because they don’t fatigue themselves. They take their time to understand each issue at hand and attempt to solve it one at a time. Completing one challenging route gives them the confidence to try a harder challenge, which they attempt with the same persistence and perseverance in the same way a climber tries to complete a route.
After looking at how the woman climbed the route, I used her technique but modified it for my body weight and length. It worked! I was able to conserve my energy and complete the climb. I realized then that I had to develop my technique further. I asked a few expert climbers for advice. Everyone suggested that the best way to hone my skills is to build muscle memory. When your body repeatedly does the same move to climb certain routes then it develops a memory of that particular move. I took their advice and quickly learned how to shift my body weight, how to use my legs when footholds were scarce, and how to use my fingers for gripping crimps. Basically, I was giving my body the practice it needed so I could attempt harder climbs.
From this experience, I realized that my entrepreneurial endeavor is no different than my climbing. I need to develop muscle memory in order to get better at it. And building muscle memory entrepreneurially comes from making an attempt, failing, and trying another method till you get it right. The moral of this story is not that climbing helps build entrepreneurial skills. In fact, the moral is that we all should reach into our individual passions and use what we do best to identify and help with our entrepreneurial challenges. There is much to learn from listening to successful entrepreneurs or leaders, but there’s much more to learn from our own lives!