I love rock-climbing – throwing yourself at a wall and shimming up, crab style, towards the ceiling. Climbing is great for entrepreneurs, especially if you’re over your stories and tired of your own rubbish.
Getting over the first hurdle
The first hurdle to climbing is getting used to the idea which, if you consider it, is kind of preposterous – much like considering starting your own business.
“Give up a steady income, the assurance of knowing what I’m suppose to be doing at any given time, and the support of an established company, with managers, HR and professional development? To start my own gig?”
But we must get over this first hurdle – so you throw yourself at the wall, stop thinking and begin climbing.
Knowing your personal predilections
Most of my efforts take part indoors in cavernous rooms with bad music and the sour smell of sweat-soaked effort. It’s not relaxing or conducive to conversation. But that’s kind of the point – the music is there to gee you up and the vibe of “just do it!” keeps you focused.
As soon as you start climbing, your personal predilections become obvious. My climbing partner is far more experienced than me and highly strategic. Before he starts climbing, he’s plotting his course and doing a little dance in his rubber-toed shoes, mirroring the moves he’ll make as he scales the wall.
My strength – and weakness – is speed and dog-headedness. I don’t plot out a course. I throw myself at the wall and start scrambling.
Your personal predilections will immediately become apparent when you start your own business. As a long-time yoga and meditation teacher and practitioner, I can attest that self-employment will accelerate your self-insight and personal development quicker than anything else you care to try, precisely because of its public nature. You can’t figure it out on your own. You’re out there, climbing.
Excuses are pointless
When you reach a hurdle, it’s entirely pointless to start yelling excuses to your climbing partner – that the next climbing hold is too far away, or too slippery, or that you can’t maneuver your body around the climbing hold without losing your grip, or how the angle is too sharp and gravity is pulling you down and your arms or legs aren’t strong enough and your hips aren’t flexible enough.
First, you won’t be heard over the loud music. Second, there’s nothing your climbing partner can do. They might offer you a few suggestions but, much like in business, you’re on your own.
Your excuses may be valid, but they’re also pointless. You may have plenty of reasons why you can’t continue, but these aren’t going to help you. These reasons become excuses to give up and abseil down. Or keep trying.
Anger and laughter are both highly useful
One night I got stuck on a concave wall. From 90 degrees to the ground, it sloped out sharply before continuing at a lesser concave angle up to the ceiling. When you’re hanging onto a concave wall, you have the added difficulty of gravity pulling you towards the ground. And right at the precipice was a large, protruding climbing hold.
I got stuck there, hanging desperately onto a climbing hold with my feet dangling in space. My climbing partner watched me take swing after swing at the obstacle. He started yelling, “get angry!”
I got angry. I got fierce and determined to grab the climbing hold and haul myself up and over. After doing this several time, staring hard at this protruding climbing hold that resembled a piece of male anatomy, I started laughing. The whole situation was kind of ridiculous. Ultimately, it wasn’t really important. And by not caring so much about my progress, I eventually swung up, caught a firm grip on the climbing hold, enough to scramble inelegantly past the hurdle and onwards towards the ceiling.
Both anger and laughter are hugely helpful in business.
I often find myself looking somewhat aghast at some shoddy business or another. I’m floored by unprofessionalism. I marvel at terrible design and insensitive copy writing. I’m appalled by frauds, have-a-gos and the way these players pull down the industry for the rest of us. I get angry and think “why not me?!” With irritation wind under my sails, I’m far more focused, productive, and brave.
But you can’t stay angry. Not if you want to enjoy the process of business (and life). When you start taking things too seriously in business, it’s time for some perspective. And nothing brings perspective quicker than a good belly laugh. It’s unlikely that your business is life or death, unless of course, you’re a surgeon.
We all lose perspective from time to time. So have a good laugh. It’s hugely motivating.
How to stop your ego becoming a business liability
Climbing a wall pushes yourself against the limits of yourself – perceived and real. Your ego – like your perspective and attitude – are active players in your business. Sometimes they are assets and sometimes, liabilities. If you’ve ever stopped yourself pitching for something you really want, introducing yourself to someone you really admire, or have created elaborate stories about why you can’t – and shouldn’t – do something that you actually, really want to do, then you know this.
“We change our behavior” says Henry Cloud, “when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing.” To change, we need to be ready to walk away from the emotional dramas of our current situation and overcome the noise of our ego.
If you’re tired of your own rubbish and climbing the walls for alternatives, then it’s time to choose a new reality.
You’ll have to be willing to do something uncomfortable – or perhaps even ridiculous – like throwing yourself at a wall.
You’ll need to decide you’ve had enough of your own rubbish and are willing to try scaling the walls to a new reality. You may be scared, but it’s unlikely you’ll really hurt yourself. You have a harness. Your inner critic will no doubt cajole, beseech, or scream. But you’re okay. It’s just you and the wall. And God it feels good to make it to the top.