Dear Why Team member,
I hope this week’s message finds you well and encouraged.
At this writing, I am on a flight home from Las Vegas. I flew out to speak for a friend and colleague, combining it with an opportunity to climb again in the Joshua Tree National Park.
I’ll never forget the first time I met Matt Walker, my climbing guide for the past 7 years, in late 2015; I was invited to hear him speak and was captivated by his presentation and the way he lives his life. What hooked me most was his core message on Adventure Learning, that there is much to be learned that can only be learned through adventure; this answers the common question I get asked as to why I climb mountains.
My first outing with Matt was in the Fall of 2016 and he has led me on many amazing adventures since.
This blog site has revealed many stories of the learning I have received and apparently, I’m finding, there is no limit to adventure learning.
Matt has continually challenged me from the start, increasing the difficulty as my skills improve and consistently exposing me to new environments that awaken me and expand my consciousness.
Who doesn’t love those eureka moments, flashes of insight that give us deeper understanding? You never know when they are going to happen, but they bring a vitality to life, and an excitement for what more is out there to learn; I have found that adventure brings them more often. Exhaustion alone can serve to break down our defenses and open us up to greater vulnerability and humility. I’ve grown closer to fellow climbers in these moments, learning more about myself and how I show up in the world. Solidarity is born in challenging situations when you could be the saving grace of a total stranger and discover strengths you never knew you never knew.
On the first of two days climbing in Joshua Tree, I found myself tensing up on the rock as the challenges were greater than I had ever encountered. Photographer Travis Perkins and fellow climber, with a great deal of experience, shared an insight that not surprisingly relates to living in general. He said it’s well known among climbers that the ones who are most successful are having the most fun.
It hit me that my ‘fun’ that day was intermittent. I enjoyed portions of the ascent that were easier, but was in some way fighting with resistance during the difficult sections.
Soon after hearing the advice to have fun, while particularly high on the rock face and struggling with a small hand hold, I received the path forward when Matt, who was above me, having secured my line of support, said these simple, powerful words:
“Steve, let go, I’ve got you!”
I can’t tell you how just remembering those words affects me. Who in life doesn’t want to hear, “let go, I’ve got you”? I didn’t realize until that moment how much I have tried not to fail in my life, determined not to let go. This attitude has certainly served me, but there are times we need to let go, relax, reset and try again. And even though you may not always hear it, there may be a voice telling you,
“let go, I’ve got you”.
Of course letting go when you’re hundreds of feet above the ground requires real trust, and thus why we must have confidence in those who lead us. Intellectually, I know failure leads to progress, but when your life is in the balance, it’s a whole other challenge to let go.
Following Matt’s advice, letting go and hanging on the rope for a moment, was the breather I needed to successfully reengage in my ascent.
Upon the conclusion of that particular climb, where I had to let go to succeed, I was hit with the importance of feeling free to let go - and how important that freedom is to reach new heights. The confidence I had in my leader and in the infrastructure built to support me, gave me the courage to reach farther and try harder than I ever would have done without having the freedom to let go. And actually having fun during the climb not just at the summit.
Albert Einstein once said,
“Failure is success in progress”
But if we don’t feel free to let go, we won’t extend ourselves beyond our limiting comfort zones.
Who in your life can you say,
“Let go, I’ve got you” and with whom do you feel that kind of support in your life? Every time I reflect on that terrifying moment, fingers trying to hold onto a small outcropping, arms shaking, fear rising, paralyzing and then hearing,
“Steve, let go, I’ve got you”.
It floors me every time I think about it; and in some way arriving at that moment, trusting and letting go, has been worth all 7 years of climbing.
Consider this week where you feel free to let go and to whom you can say
“I’ve got you!”
Make it a great week!