With one foot on a small hold, the other hanging on the wall, and my next move looking incredibly difficult, falling seemed to be the unavoidable outcome. So there came a very scary question: “Am I good enough?”
With one foot on a small hold, the other hanging on the wall, and my next move looking incredibly difficult, falling seemed to be the unavoidable outcome. So there came a very scary question: “Am I good enough?” Did I have the training, reach, strength, confidence and guts to go for it and successfully make the move? What if I fell?
This scenario from one of my latest climbing efforts isn’t far from the reality many of us experience in our professional lives… including myself. Just as I decided to boost the intensity of my hobby by taking up lead climbing (where the climber clips the rope as they climb, as opposed to having the rope hooked from the top), I also chose to focus my career on developing as a leader. Coincidence or conscious decision to generally step up in my life?
Both moves come with great excitements (I will learn and stretch myself) and nerve-racking thoughts (But can I really do this?). In times when the negative thoughts try to take over (generally when I’m tired and grumpy), it’s helpful to remember these five leadership lessons from lead climbing:
Learn with each move – They say ‘perfection comes with practice’… I may not be aiming for perfection, but each stretched goal I reach, bold step I take, small challenge I set myself is part of the process. Learning to reflect on those events is a key skill to continuously develop and ‘get better at it’.
Try something different – Sometimes the move just doesn’t work. That’s when I need to step back and look at different ways to tackle it… A solution eventually comes around.
Falling is not fatal – Luckily, I don’t free solo (climbing without a rope). So the fall, if it comes, won’t be catastrophic. It could still hurt, but I’ll survive. Likewise, I have a strong support network around me, which like the rope, would help me bounce back, get back up and simply not crash! It also gives me confidence to go for the bold moves.
Anchor yourself – Being positive (I do a lot of self talk during difficult climbs) and authentic is important. For me, the anchor is also about having a strong relationship with my man who cheers me on on the wall just like at home.
Give it a shot – What if I start climbing and I realise halfway through that the next move is really really hard? What makes me decide if I go for it or not? Well, if I’m up there already, I’ll give it a red hot go.
So as I stand at the bottom of the wall and ask myself “Can I conquer this next challenge?”, I look up, take a deep breath and grab onto the first hold. I hope you do too.
(As a side note, apparently women are particularly good at asking themselves whether they’re good enough… something which needs to change!)