Rock Climbing Taught me TO Excel at work (And it’s not what you think)

Picture this, you are 35 feet above the ground, holding onto to a sliver of rock by your fingertips, with the only line of safety being a piece of rope and a buddy on the ground holding said rope. Sound crazy? Why would someone want to do this?

Now picture this, you are new to your job/your industry and in a high-pressure role where you are under the eye of leadership regularly. Where you perform tasks that, when done wrong, can have serious consequences to your department or the overall business. So, I ask again: Sound crazy? Why would someone want to do this?

For someone just starting out and working in an industry where I am put in high pressure situations constantly, as well as learning something new virtually every day, failing has become a part of my weekly routine.

And failing sucks… Right?

Except when it doesn’t. Consider this: I have been rock climbing for about 12 years, and this sport is designed with failing in mind. To accomplish what may seem impossible at first, you must defy the natural human fear of heights with strength and problem solving skills. In the process, you will fall (fail). If you don’t fail you won’t get better.

Here are 3 things I have learned from rock climbing that have helped me in my career:

Learn something new:

In a climbing session, I normally fall (fail), more times than I see success. I love this feeling because every time I fall, I learn from my mistake, work to fix it, and ultimately become a stronger climber.

There were times I felt Graham would quit based on the talks we’d have to have.

Nikki Barua
CEO of BeyondCurious.

That quote was in the context of one of my first projects, which was managing the build of the BeyondCurious website. In this process, I made some “Rookie” mistakes, such as miscommunications to my team and to the client (my boss). As a new Project Manager, there are intricacies to the job I did not know, such as drafting the clearest email possible to make sure everyone is on the same page. I had completely overlooked the clarity of some emails sent, and in turn, had left the client in the dark without even knowing. From that experience, I now work daily to make sure every email I send, to anybody, shows complete transparency.

Push Yourself to Take Risks:

I rock climb because I believe it provides me a mindset that is needed to be successful at work. When I climb, I push myself to take on the toughest routes I can, and I refuse to step down even though it seems challenging, maybe even impossible at times.

If I was afraid to take risks at BeyondCurious, I would never have accomplished what I have in the year I have worked here. For example: I would have never gone from being an Intern to a full-time Project Manager/Marketing Lead. I would never have driven the BeyondCurious website to launch. I would never have written my first blog, and then a second. I would never have managed a project for Google! With great risk comes the opportunity for great reward.

Find your Euphoria:

Success is an addictive and euphoric feeling. Knowing you worked your ass off to accomplish a seemingly impossible goal makes you want to push yourself to reach that feeling again.

In rock climbing I had that euphoric feeling of success when I ascended my first V8 (hard rock climbing route). When I started climbing, a V8 was not even feasible. When I started trying, I fell hundreds of times trying to find out the best and most precise way up the wall, but the failure only made me hungrier. When I was finally able to accomplish that feat, the feeling was incomparable.

When launching my first website for BeyondCurious, the process involved falling, basically down the steepest side of Mount Everest. But, when something went awry, I wanted nothing more than to fix it, and make sure nothing like that ever happened again on one of my projects. In fact, it motivated me further to make sure I created THE BEST product for my client. When launch happened, there was no better feeling. I’m starting to think that if you do not have that feeling when seeing success at work, you might need to find a new job…

Moving forward, I am a much stronger project manager and have now established best practices for any similar project in the future. Tying this back to climbing, or any hobby you may enjoy: whether it be surfing, weightlifting, or bull riding, there will be challenges, and odds are, you will fail. Therefore, I ask again: Why does failing suck? Why are you afraid to fail? Are you holding yourself back by not taking risks that may lead to potential failure? If you are anything like me, embrace failure, learn from the criticisms and become a stronger worker, climber, weightlifter, surfer, or bull rider because of it.

Challenging yourself should involve failing; if not, did you really challenge yourself?

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