Climbing Without Ropes

This week I want to talk about how little control we have over our relationship with fear, and how those that master their mindset can climb any mountain. In this case, literally, with nothing more than bare hands. This is what I want you to hear when it all seems so, well, daunting.

My husband rock climbs, and a few years back he introduced me to Alex Honnold, a free-solo rock climber that climbed the 3,000+ sheer face of El Capitan in 2017 without ropes. He scaled 3,000 feet of sheer rock wall with his bare hands, climbing shoes, and a chalk bag.

What’s truly mind-blowing is that he did this climb, which takes serious climbers with ropes 3-5 days with ropes, in a blistering 3 hours and 56 minutes. Mind blown.

Alex Honnold is able to perform “impossible” feats for the simple reason he does not believe them to be impossible. He simply gets clear, gets focused and gets to work. He prepares religiously, trains ruthlessly and leaves no space for anything except that which serves his goal. The feats Alex performs can only be done because he has re-framed his relationship with fear. He does not allow it the power to control him, no matter the circumstance, because he knows that the stakes are just too high.

And, so should you.

It’s performances like Honnold’s that captivate me. If he can overcome the very real risk of death to climb a rock, why do so many advisors struggle to achieve their goals, much less perform the kind of kick-assery that Honnold and other top performers achieve?

If you watch Honnold’s TEDx video, he describes his path to mastery. If you listen beyond his story, you’ll see he followed a simple model, proven reliably effective at creating the conditions for success:

  • Mapping: Honnold describes how he set the goals for and approached two very different climbs, and the difference it made in his performance. The first climb was a surprise struggle, and the difficult climb ended up being effortless. The difference between the climbs was his clarity of vision.  When your vision is clear, your decisions are easy. Your vision for your practice shouldn’t change in times like these, but your strategies might.
  • Mindset: Fear, Honnold shares, was something he locked away years ago. He talks of his grueling preparation, which is heavy on visualization. He repeatedly plays out thousands of fingerholds over and over in his mind until he can mentally complete the route with perfection. Honnold operates in a success-state of mind. He knows that all focus, energy, skill and resources must be applied to the goal, without exception or distraction, because the stakes are just too high. Honnold is proof that the only limits we have are the ones we place on ourselves. If you want to succeed in the days ahead, shifting into a success-state is the best investment you can make.
  • Methods: Both rock climbing and financial planning have best practice methods that shortcut the path to mastery. Honnold does not re-invent the wheel when it comes to tying knots or setting anchors (he uses ropes when practicing his climbs). He doesn’t buy the cheapest equipment, and he’s part of a close community that collaborates and supports each other. Simply put, you cannot make a masterpiece with mediocre methods. Now is the time to question everything you do, and ask yourself how you can do it better, and differently. I talk about this in Accelerating Trends on FA magazine.
  • Momentum: There’s no missing Honnold’s momentum as he describes the journey from secretly wishing to conquer El Capitan to making the decision and then forcefully applying all his energy and effort on that singular goal. The sheer size of his goal required momentum on an order of magnitude the likes of which none of us has ever experienced. I’ve found a simple formula that works to accelerate momentum in good times and bad: get clear, get focused and get to work. Too often advisors tackle the get to work first, moving them forward but in frustratingly slow and stressful ways. Your job is to clear the playing field of anything that distracts or dilutes your energy, and them move forward with clarity and focus.

In short, the “big scary monster” standing between you and the bigger, better future you want is living between your ears. Yes, times are tough, and they will get tougher. Yet, in every such time in history, some have struggled, some have not survived at all, and still others have soared.

As you face an uncertain future, your mindset will largely determine into which camp your story falls.

With that, I simply want to remind you that you can do most anything, it’s your mind you have to convince. I’d also like to invite you to join me and Michael Kitces for Success Mindset, the first part of my 4-part video series you can watch here:

Open for Opportunity: How to Deliver Value & Drive Growth in Any Market

Here’s to your new found kick-assery.

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