Why Take On More Responsibility
Dear Why Team member,
I hope this week’s message finds you living your BEST DAY EVER in your BEST YEAR EVER!
This weeks message explores:
Why Take On More Responsibility
What’s the first thought that comes to mind when you think of responsibilities? Most would say it’s synonymous with burden; I see it as our response-ability to various situations. I remember being told growing up that the older I got, the more responsibilities I’ll have. Would they all be congruent with my response-abilities? No, so I had to adjust my abilities to raise to the occasion; you must see where I’m going, rising to the occasion, first off involves a positive response/action, secondly, it helps us grow because if we’re not presented with new challenges/responsibilities we’d atrophy.
My recent climb in Joshua Tree National Park provided experiences that were next level for me. Last week I shared the words said by my guide and good friend Matt Walker that I will never forget: “Let Go, I’ve Got You!” and I concluded the message asking to whom can you say,
“Let Go, I’ve Got You”?
It was the final climb on our final day in the park. Matt chose the iconic Headstone Rock. I remember being grateful not to know it’s name until after the climb :-)
The edge of the massive rock Matt chose for us to climb was especially difficult from the start. Matt told me in advance of the climb that it would be particularly “heady” for him. Which I took to mean his head will have to be very focused as he will be at a higher than usual risk. As the lead climber, he places safety gear as he ascends. Think of it this way, until he places a specially designed cam into a crack in the rock and loops through it his rope, he is climbing solo. Higher the climb without a rope to catch his fall, the greater the risk. Once he has placed the gear and looped through his rope, every foot above the gear is equal to twice that distance should he fall; five feet above the last safety cam in the rock is equivalent to a ten foot fall should he fall.
Now, that rope he’s taking up the rock is ultimately secured to me down below. I have a device on my own safety harness that allows me to let out rope as he needs it while also never allowing my right hand to leave the portion of the rope that would lock down and arrest his fall. I’ve belayed for Matt many times, but as he seeks to increase the difficulty for me, he is also increasing his difficulty and it was at the beginning of Headstone Rock that I felt the weight of responsibility for him greater than ever. I also had the privilege of watching a world class climber embrace and overcome a particularly challenging lead climb. He has climbed all over the world and even Summited Everest twice.
And interestingly enough, when I am belaying for Matt as the lead climber, I am literally looking up to my leader to show me the way.
It is said that there are old climbers and there are bold climbers, but there are no old bold climbers. Matt is extremely disciplined as a guide. It’s his attention to every detail that gives me the confidence I need to place my life in his hands, but in this particular climb, to cap off our two days of climbing, specifically at sunset for great pictures per our fellow climber and photographer Travis Perkins, Matt had to have greater confidence than ever in me.
Matt taught me the correct tying and knotting of the rope to my harness - both for protectively belaying him on his ascent and supporting me on mine. The dependence on another for our own survival is rarely experienced so profoundly in life. It is said that in battle, a soldier fights more for their fellow soldiers than they do for their country- each relying on each other for survival and to achieve their mission.
Previous climbs with Matt, while very important, had not been so “heady”. Matt’s seriousness had my full attention. It was important that I keep as much slack out of the rope should he fall, while at the same time giving him enough slack to climb. Usually he can get safety gear inserted fairly early in a climb, but appropriately named Headstone Rock was not so easy. Before I even began my ascent, I had already expended a lot of adrenaline during Matt’s ascent - almost as if I were doing the climbing myself, alone.
Short of experiencing combat with another, the taking on of such significant responsibility for another is an incredible experience. Just as many soldiers sign up for another tour, baffling everyone around them asking Why? “My God you survived, why on earth are you going back?”
Well the answer is often: “To Live!”
“A ship is safe in the harbor, but that is not what a ship is built for”
When we are directly called upon to support another, our lives take on significant responsibility, meaning and purpose. I firmly believe that the best way to live life is with a purpose- and that purpose is not self-oriented, but rather other-oriented.
Viktor Frankl said “Man can handle almost any How if he has a Why to live by”
And that why is other-oriented.
Before I left home to climb my first glacier, I told my kids I would rather they die living than live dying. Once again, that glacier climb depended on others to survive; a shared mission and an interdependency on each other to accomplish it.
Those who most enjoy their lives live lives with purpose beyond themselves. Understanding that overcoming our own fears and anxieties empower us to assist others to do the same.
No matter Matt’s years and years of experience, in that moment he had to depend on me to be there for him, to be able to say to him “I’ve Got You! And no doubt this responsibility made me develop more as a mountain climber and helped me train to develop a new response-ability.
Together we’re better - we find our meaning in communion with each other and support of each other.
What more could you be doing to become a more inspirational living example for others to follow?
Taking on more responsibility will lead you farther than you have ever gone, not just for yourself, but for those who are looking up to you to show them the way.
Make it a great week!
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