Shortly after my wife took this picture I fell short of reaching the top of the wall on this particular route. I wasn’t upset about it at all. I was instead extremely rational about this “failure.” In my head I said, “I’ll just need to fail a few more times at this.”
It made sense I couldn’t reach the top on my first or second try, I’d never done a route this hard.
However, like the routes before it, I kept at it. My progress wasn’t linear, but the more times I tried, the more progress I made. What started as falling 25% up the wall led to failing 50% up the wall a few tries later.
The only thing that allowed me to do harder routes over time was failing to do a route successfully over and over again.
In rock climbing, it’s easy to be rational about what I should and shouldn’t be able to do at this point in my experience and how I can get better over time.
It’s harder however to be rational with ourselves when we fall short in other things, but we can apply the lessons of rock climbing (and many other physical activities) to life:
- It’s natural to fall short when we try new things or when we challenge ourselves more than we have before — this is how we grow.
- Repeated failure is required for growth — growth and success cannot happen without failure.
- Our perspective on what failure means going into a new challenge or opportunity matters.
- Some days we just won’t have it, and that’s okay. Let’s keep showing up and getting better.
- If you keep at it, seek feedback, and are willing to work hard, you’ll surprise yourself.
Let’s remember that much of what we can do today, and perhaps what now comes easy to us was once hard.
Whatever your next “rock climbing route” may be, see that you just need to fail a few more (or perhaps, a few hundred) more times…it’s part of the process, but you’re on your way.