I heard a powerful question recently, on the Adventure Sports Podcast. Tommy Caldwell, free climber and star of the box office hit The Dawn Wall was asked: What single thing was at the crux of succeeding in the most difficult rope-free climb in history?
Was it logistics, timing, relationships, money…? His answer? “Building the belief and resolve that it was worth it no matter what the outcome.”
Coaches often focus on goals. Whilst goals and outcomes are valuable, real change requires hard and regular practice over time, and we must be committed to the benefit of that new practice and trust it is leading you upwards.
Therapist Carl Rogers put it beautifully:
“The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction not a destination”.Carl Rogers (1961) On becoming a person
And pioneering alpinist Alex Macintyre was even more succinct: “Style trumps summits”.
Caldwell took seven years to embody, through practice and trial and error, the physical and mental change necessary to climb the route. Seven years of steadfast adherence to process. Seven years of falling, and getting up again, repeatedly.
Coaching partnerships would do well to think about this.
- What is the practice required to achieve the change desired?
- What level of commitment is there?
- What happens when bad weather sets in?
- How must our bodies as well as our minds respond?
Most of us have seven years. What kind of climber do we want to become?