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rocks with rope in the ocean

I would like to share a comment from David Scott Van Woert, executive producer at Identity fx. We were discussing climbing, but the thought David has expressed is very deep, it goes far beyond a simple advice on how to climb better. Is about the way we thought of ourselves when faced with the successes and failures in our lives (and in rock climbing):

...I would hope we all try to climb with less and less ego. I think fear of failure on the surface may be partly a fear of looking bad in front of other people but on a deeper level might really be considered a fear of succeeding. Falling (failing) is part of what and who we are as humans. In climbing - as in business, relationships, anything - it is as essential to success as setting a new speed record or impressing your friends on the next pitch - as long as we acknowledge and learn from it. Its how we learn what not to do and it is how we calibrate ourselves to the task at hand. Success may deliver a celebratory mindset in the short term, but often comes with a much greater level of responsibility. As we progress (succeed) we must abandon our past victories and invent new ones. We must create the next level of standards. We must lead. The word success itself originates from the Latin "to come after". And many of us know what an onus it can be to have to reinvent yourself over and over again. So maybe it is a more subtle interplay of the yin and yang of success and failure that shapes our fear. Regardless, search the Canons of history and you will find we, as humans, time and time again, have achieved through failure as much as we have through success. Perhaps we should not choose to stand on the sidelines out of fear but embrace our ability to fail (or succeed!) instead of labeling it with such stigma.


The success and failure are not opposites, they are complementary

Successful climbs and unsuccessful climbs are not opposites, it may look like, but they are just complementary. Complementary is what completes the other part. So imagine a whole thing, of which you take a piece. The complement is the part that allows you to reconstruct the whole. Both equally can contribute to make you grow as a climber and as a person. Do not worry if you've failed, and do not celebrate success, rather try to be present and try to understand what is happening.

Did you fall on a difficult climb? If you'll focus on the fact that you have fallen (fail), you'll miss the most important moment, the moment of the action: if you'll be present at that moment you'll see where the mistake is. Did you complete a challenging climb? Do not celebrate, but try to focus on the action, be present and learn from your successes as well. When you're aware it does not matter if you fail or if you are successful, when you are aware you always learn from your experience, and the quality of your climbing will improve.

When you're not aware, it does not matter what grades you can climb. Who is not conscious while climbing never learns anything, maybe he can become stronger over time, actually he have to become stronger, but not a better climber. There are climbers who can climb very difficult routes, but they do it unconsciously, after trying the same climb again and again. They could make it with half of the energy they are using for it! It is not a matter to send it or not to send it, it is a matter of how you did it: you are careful and conscious at every step, or you're climbing in a repetitive, automatic way? Every moment while you climb is an opportunity, no matter if the route is difficult or easy. But do not miss this opportunity: try to pay attention every time you touch the rock. Our educational system produces ambitious minds; this is the orientation of our society. But the ambition forces you to look towards the future, to concentrate on the results and so you'll miss out that magical moment, when you can figure things out. Try to observe an ambitious climber: he'll always use power, even on the easier climbs.

It is possible to completely avoid failures by creating a habit, repeating the same behaviors, the same training, the same climbs that are congenial to you. Some climbers focus on the strength, train a lot and send some difficult routes. They will have the illusion of being good in climbing and so, they will cease to learn and to perceive what is happening on the rock. The habit is very dangerous, reduces the ability of perception and leads us to lose gradually the connection with reality. Try to observe the nature: animals, who do things out of habit, are the first victims of predators. The situations are never exactly the same, if certain actions in the past had given good results, does not mean that the same can happen in the future.

You can learn wisdom from failure. Sometimes failure can be a stepping stone more solid than many successes, it can make you understand many things, can make real changes in you and help you to find the way that is appropriate to your person. Be awake and alert while rock climbing, than, failures and successes will transform your climbing into a creative game.

In a rock climbing gear shop, the owner, very concerned about the economic crisis, tells his problems to a friend:
"You know, now things are going really bad. It's been weeks since I can't sleep . If I'll not get that money, I'll have to hang up my boots!"
"Why you didn't come to me? We are friends, no?"
"You mean, that you'll lend me the money?"
"No, but I have some excellent sleeping pills ...!"


Ivo Buda


The graphic is by Katsushika Hokusai, Japanese painter and printmaker. His works were a source of inspiration for Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh and many others.