5 Things I Learned About Business Success While Rock Climbing

Three happy teenagers having fun at rock climbing wall
Three happy teenagers having fun at rock climbing wall

Rock climbing and business? Yes, you read that right. It's all about applying true life experience to business.

For my 25th birthday I went rock climbing. It was an unforgettable experience. The huge building is covered in rock climbing walls. It has arches and short routes and long routes. I had the option to pick any route. This was a huge jump from eight years ago that little three route wall I climbed at the amusement park. My heart was racing because I loved climbing and could not wait to be over with the orientation. When I was younger my grandma did not call me a little monkey for no reason. The orientation was finally over and we could start climbing. Right away, I learned my first lesson about success.

Lesson One: Be Prepared.
Now I thought I was prepared, since I had my yoga pants, a cute workout top, and my CrossFit shoes. When I took that first climb I quickly realized I wish I had real rock climbing shoes. I was looking around and noticed the pro had these shoes that were almost like ballet slippers but tougher looking. I am certain I could have climbed better with rock climbing shoes since my shoes were just too bulky. Half way up I came upon an obstacle and my hands started getting wet. Moist hands make it hard to grip on the wall. Now I understand the purpose of chalk. Sometimes we jump into things without actually having a plan and knowing the right tools to have on that journey. Just because we see someone else succeeding in that area does not mean we can just jump into it without being prepared. Of course with a little of research and planning I could have been climbing those walls faster than a monkey but I was not prepared. I learned a valuable lesson by putting this experience into perspective.

Lesson Two: Listen to the Advice of Experts on the Same Path.
Afterwards, I was holding on for my dear life and unable to move. At that moment I was thinking I should have listened to the lady in the orientation, "Climb about 10 feet and fall, so you get a feel for the belays. Some people get to the top and have not tried it and get stuck because they are not sure if it will hold them or not, because they are not comfortable with the feel of it." In reality I was probably only 20 feet up but I was by myself. I did not know if this little rope and machine was going to hold me as I plummeted down. I had to make a decision, let go or stay frozen to the wall. I let go and quickly realized advice can be good at times. This lesson is a great example of how sometimes it is a good idea to listen to the advice of the ones who have traveled the same path.

Lesson Three: Past Fails Strengthen Future Wins.
The next route I climbed seemed much easier. My past failures and paths helped me succeed on my next bigger route. Since I did the smaller more challenging one first, it helped me get to the top one quickly. I knew what to look for and which path to take to help me get to the top faster and with fewer obstacles, or when I came to those obstacles I knew how to overcome them. Lesson three is a great example of how to let your past failures guide you to future wins.

Lesson Four: It Takes More Strength and Energy Than You Think to Make it to the Top.
The fourth lesson I learned came only twenty minutes after I first started climbing. I was thirsty and my arms were already sore. I did not realize how climbing would be an intense workout. Just like anything else in life, the more I do something the easier it becomes. This lesson is another great example of how it takes more strength and energy than you think to become successful in business.

Lesson Five: A Fail is Not a Fail Unless You Give Up.
The last lesson I learned was after trying to climb the same route and failing over and over. There was this one part that kept getting me stuck and I would have to let go and start again. I did this about five times and it did not help that I was already tired from climbing. With each fail I realized I had gone a little bit farther than the last time I failed until eventually I made it to the top. Even though it took me five or six tries, I learned another important lesson. Each time you fail it is not really a fail unless you stop. Also, each time you fail, it is strengthening you to overcome that obstacle little by little.

Bonus Lesson: Take Time to Reflect.
Bonus tip is about the times I started over. It helped me if I took a few moments to reflect on my previous route and take some time to plan out my next climb. So in business or life after you feel you have failed, do not jump right back in or throw the towel in. Instead, take a few moments to reflect on what just happened to you to help you get farther in your future attempt. Realize that it may take a few more fails before you make it to the top. But you will make it!

How can you take your own life experiences and apply them to your business? I would love to hear your thoughts!