Just two or three years ago, I tried rock climbing for the first time. It was fun, but I couldn’t get too high, otherwise, my legs would start becoming wobbly and my heart would want to rip open a hole and jump out of my chest. Height has never been a friend.
I tried rock climbing one more time after that, but the same thing happened. I could never reach the top of the wall because I would back out before I got too high.
As with many things in life, my natural response was to deem rock climbing “not for me”. I just told myself that everyone else can do it because they’re better than I am when it came to rock climbing. I am good at this and that, and they are good at those other things. It’s just the way life is.
But, today was different.
I’m not sure what changed, but today I was able to climb a 12-meter wall. To give an idea of how tall that is, it’s about 3 stories high. That’s usually the height where my mind races into overdrive going “danger, danger, you fucking fool, get to safety. NOW.”
It’s a curious thing and I don’t have a proper explanation for it. I could chalk it up to having gone to the gym more regularly recently, but I don’t think that alone is it. Rock climbing is not about strength. I know, because most of my female colleagues climbed the 12-meter wall four times while I did it only twice.
Speaking of colleagues, yeah I was there with colleagues. And if I were to make a best-guess at the reason behind today’s unexpected success, I would say it’s their company. I think having people around me who were all performing stunningly well at climbing just made me believe that it’s possible and that perhaps it’s not even really that hard.
Moral of the story? There are two:
- Don’t let the first or even second attempts with negative outcomes make you believe that something is “not for you”. It may be that the conditions just weren’t right at the time for you to succeed.
- The average performance of people around you is likely to determine your own because your perception is augmented accordingly.
Tomorrow, my arms are going to hurt. But I’m going to savour it by telling myself they hurt because I scaled a freaking 3 story building and that’s quite cool.