Nine years later, a flashback of nearly dying keeps resurfacing.
It was on the summit attempt of Chakri Peak when we were faced with a twenty-foot rock-wall as the last challenge before reaching the mountain top. I kept thinking about a friend in college who went rock climbing one weekend and didn’t come home. His hand slipped, he fell and died from internal bleeding. He was nineteen years old.
At the time I thought it was tragic that such a young soul would have to perish doing what seemed like an overly dangerous sport. But, there I was, approaching 17,000 feet, in the Himalayas of India staring at my options on a rock face. Our leader, Jeff Salz (part mountain goat, all friend, also a motivational keynote speaker), had scampered up the face in a matter of seconds. My skills weren’t near his so I took my time.
The way he went up seemed too difficult for me. So, I stepped back and reassessed other options. To the left it was just as steep but it appeared to have more of a pronounced set of foot and hand holds. The draw back wa it overhung a 1000-foot drop. But, falling wasn’t an option, climbing was the objective.
As I tested my foothold everything seemed perfect. The first handhold was just as solid so I reached out further over the cliff to grab onto a rock with my left hand. This is when things went wrong.
From an observer’s standpoint it probably looked like I just reached up, grabbed a rock, changed my mind and backtracked. Yet, in my own skin, it was far more tenuous of a maneuver. As I grabbed the furthest rock with my left hand it felt good for a second but as I engaged more weight it started to pull out of the loose rock wall.
Had I hung on for anymore time, it would have dislodged and I would have cart wheeled to the left spinning like a starfish towards a nasty thud on the rocks below. Shards of time separated disaster from recovery. In a quick and decisive move my boot blindly found the previous foothold and I stepped back into a safe space. What could have been a horrible fall ended up being an education in what wouldn’t work. Jeff’s path turned out to be the best one after all.
Accelerating decision-making in rock climbing or any pursuit in life can have the same sort of outcome. There are three things that relate to a little speed making a big difference.
1. Don’t freeze. The worst mistake would have been freezing long enough for it to be too late to backtrack. The biggest blunder you can make in a touch-and-go situation is to freeze.
2. Multiply your options. Rock climbing is a blend of art and technique. Climbing our way through life is the same. Keep scanning your path for options. Like a chess player, pick a strategy where you multiply your options.
3. Trust your instinct. We each have an innate capability or aptitude with more situations than we are conscious of. The sheer power of the subconscious mind can handle a variety of problems at high speed.
The little extra speed with which you handle a situation can translate into a big difference in many parts of your life. Take a moment and see where you are stopping yourself. Take an inventory of your options and trust your instinct. Move deliberately and move quickly.
Do this and you’ll (safely) reach your BIG GOALS in ½ the time.
NOTE: I have a new keynote called BIG GOALS FAST. You may have a group interested in reaching thier own lofty objectives. ASK US HOW.