Key Point: Having an aspirational dream is sometimes more powerful than thinking about conquering someone or something. And stepping back, recharging while focusing on a strategic approach is often more productive than just charging ahead, hoping for the best.
You may have heard or read about the recent remarkable feat of climbers Kevin Jorgeson and Tommy Caldwell. The two finished a 19-day, 3,000-foot (915-meter) ascent of the Dawn Wall on El Capitan in California’s Yosemite National Park. Many experts consider this to be the toughest free climb ever completed. Free climbing means that Caldwell and Jorgeson only used their hands and feet to ascend, and applied ropes only for protection from falling. (See pictures of their adventure up the Dawn Wall on El Capitan… Yikes). The climb included 32 pitches in total, and seven of these pitches (about the length of a climbing rope, or 60-70 meters) were rated 5.14 difficulty (on a scale from 5.5 to 5.15). A single 5.14 climb is a once in a lifetime accomplishment for the most expert climbers, and completing seven such pitches in a single push up a route makes the feat a legendary story.
Jorgeson posted during the climb: “This is not an effort to conquer. It’s about realizing a dream.” Once Jorgeson and Caldwell had set the dream of free climbing the Dawn Wall, they began to prepare. They scouted the routes. They practiced the different pitches repeatedly. They trained to build the strength and endurance needed. Planning that dream took SEVEN years of comprehensive training with every detail in mind.
Achieving a dream is usually a test of perseverance even with the best intent, focus and preparation. Despite all the “blueprints” pre-drawn for the ascent, Jorgeson really struggled to complete pitch 15. This was a section of rock where he had to climb laterally between two vertical pitches. He failed 10 times before completing it. It took him seven days. This didn’t involve returning to The Four Seasons for a pillowy rest every night. Caldwell and Jorgeson were sleeping in tents attached to the wall hundreds of meters off the ground. Jorgeson’s determination to overcome this challenge is truly inspirational.
- What are your dreams? It is ok to take the time to clarify and be intentional. Sometimes it’s very specific, like climbing the most daunting rock face in the world. Other times, it is driven more by purpose or a life defined by making a contribution to others. Dreams can be modest or huge. Most importantly, your dream is exclusively yours!
- For most of us the road to achieving our dreams involves what often appears to be insurmountable challenges. Yet, I’ve come to appreciate that it’s these challenges that really define us. Rather than just whipping and exhorting ourselves to try harder, remember that the best approach may be to step back, rest, recover, regenerate and respond to the challenge strategically. Often people choose to react or avoid, and it’s amazing how avoidance, inertia and fear based paralysis can turn into weeks, months and years.
- While inertia is useless, it is interesting to note that the two climbers were putting as much attention and focus into their recovery and regeneration as they were into their climbing. Do the same. This is a lesson I would have liked to have learned earlier in my life. Take the time to rest, regenerate and THINK through a plan. So, now do you know what a DWOP is? It’s a “Dream Without a Plan.”
Climbing with a plan in The Triangle,
One Millennial View: It’s sometimes annoying to wrap your mind around the idea that you can’t be “comfortable,” and you need to remain challenged, chasing, growing, “climbing.” Your inner monologue may say, “dude, shut up, I am comfortable, let me be for right now, I’ll figure it out.” Well… When? It sucks, but it’s true, no one is going to do it for you, and tomorrow isn’t going to be “magic.” You have a dream? Perfect. Good. Get it! But it’s nothing without a plan to achieve it. (I’ll be the first to admit my night can consist of pursuing nothing but what’s streaming on Netflix… But! Seriously, we’re burning daylight and if we made a point to take our plans just one step further, scrolling through the movie menu will feel that much more justified).
Edited and published by Garrett Rubis