Weak.

I recently started climbing again after just over a year of not climbing, re-entering my local climbing gym I figured that I could pick back up where I left off. Thinking that my fitness was fairly decent and my ability was still there I proceeded to flail around for an hour on routes that I easily climbed just a year before, my hand hurt, my shoulder ached, and my muscles all begged me to give them a rest. I continued to walk around the gym looking for routes to send, I ended up sending less than half of my attempted routes but still felt accomplished to be back in the gym climbing even if I was weaker than I thought I was.

After finishing my workout in the gym I drove home a little down about my climbing I thought about how nice it was to be going again. The thought of the different routes and moves needed to send(climb) them allowed me to recognize that today I was a weak climber, but next session I would be stronger and be able to send more routes.  This is how we get better at the things we enjoy, we keep showing up to learn more, get better, and be stronger as we participate in our passion.

It’s a hard thing to admit weakness because once we admit that we are others will capitalize on that weakness and try and bring us down. Not a great thought when you are thinking about being vulnerable, can people use my truth against me? Sadly this is a reality, there are people who want to bring us down either to their level or below. Understanding this as a possibility as we go is an opportunity for each of us to become stronger by accepting what we can’t change and investing our time into strengthening the things we can change.

Whatever your weakness is accept it then move forward and fortify and strengthen what you can and become the best you can be. I may not be the strongest climber on the wall, but I will send any route I put my mind to, working from bottom to top relentlessly until I reach my desired destination at the top of the route.

Goal.

Once you set a goal what is your actual endgame? Are you willing to put in the work to see it from inception to fruition? Can you visualize yourself along the journey working through the ups and downs, are you prepared to fall, then rise again to the next wave of challenges ahead? It’s easy to set a goal, the hard part is the steps in between where you have to stick to it and work for your desired outcome.

Tonight we watched “Free Solo” a visual tale of Alex Honold as he prepares to free solo the freerider route on El Capitan. Watching Alex interact with his friends and family as he worked toward his goal was very interesting due to the fact that he remained vocal about his desired outcome and the risk that accompanied his lofty goal. Throughout the film, you watch as he experiences injury, personal preparation both mental and physical, doubt, and finally the completion of his goal. The way the film is shown allows the viewer to experience the actual scale of the challenge and find themselves sweaty-palmed and ready for the next movement on the journey.

As we decide on what challenge we want to accept we need to recognize the challenges there will be. The road will be ready for our feet, but will our feet be ready for the different objects along the way? Personally, the best way I’ve found if I am ready or not is by doing the thing I want to do. If I want to be able to run a 10k I need to start running a few times a week at various distances, recording my time, preparing my mind and body for each step along the way and acknowledging that there will be good days but there will also be bad days. Days where I do not want to run, I can choose on those days if I am going to walk my needed distance, a combination of walking and running, pushing through the pain of the run on that day, or just avoid it altogether.

At the end of the day, week, year, or years how you decide to start and complete your goals are entirely up to you. You can allow these goals to stand at the front of your priority list or have them as passive companions to other worthy pursuits. Either way, you decide how to set out and complete your goal. The key is to set small manageable goals as you start out, then after you get better at achieving your goals set larger loftier goals that stretch you a bit more than your previous accomplishments did. Don’t limit your opportunities because you fear failure, embrace failure to allow for more opportunities to see your goals from dreams to destinations.


Reading.

Last year I challenged myself to read as many books as possible by reading at least thirty minutes a day. I made it my mission to read those thirty minutes anywhere I could which led me to read on the train, airplanes, early in the morning, late in the night, and once on the side of the road. Reading helped keep my mind active, and my interest in personal development consistent. I learned to enjoy reading different types of books, with different outcomes. Some were business related with life hacks on optimizing my time. Others were stories that helped me escape the day to day stress that I was living with but taught me life lessons through the fictitious works designed to make readers think about situations in a different light.

All the reading that I did last year inspired me to continue reading this year, but to start writing more to share what I was learning and my take on the life lessons I was reading about.  Mankind has been writing for about ten thousand years now, meaning that reading has been around roughly the same amount of time. Early on reading and writing was a skill held by religious leaders, the wealthy, and often self-taught intellectuals who kept the skill hidden from said leaders to avoid punishment. We have progressed from times where few had the opportunities to learn how to read and write to today where we do our best to teach each other how to read and write daily. What a world to live in where we have printed and digital copies of written works by many who wrote publically and secretly for the benefit of mankind.

I wrote that small thought on reading and writing as a reminder of how fortunate we are to have the ability to read and write today. That nearly anyone who wants to learn these skills has the opportunity to do so no matter their race or gender due to the progress we have made in society. There are those who try and hold back these opportunities from others but the desire to learn can outsmart the ability to withhold said information.

Today, be grateful that you can read this. Remember that reading for fun or pleasure isn’t a waste of time but an investment in your mind.I’m not saying read thirty minutes a day as I did for a year but I am encouraging you to find time to learn, read an article, full out a crossword, and find a way to engage your mind daily in the learning process.

Together.

Tonight I finished watching the Netflix series, Russian Doll. Warning, possible spoilers ahead if you haven’t finished the series. The lead character in the series Nadia begins a series of loops where she struggles to find a safe way to navigate life, eventually finding herself cautious yet still struggling to move forward in life. She eventually meets Alan on an elevator and shares a unique moment that leads to a friendship of shorts leading to an understanding that they need to work together to help the other move forward a better person.

This process takes some time as they struggle to better understand each other, find balance in their friendship, and take some time apart to realize that friendship is a challenge accepting even when the other person might demand you get lost. After an extended time, they recognize the benefit of working together to free each other from past baggage and move forward together as friends into the unknown.

Friendship comes in all shapes and sizes due to the fact that we all bring different pros and cons together at the table as friends. Our strengths and weaknesses become well known to others as we spend time together and dare to share the truest parts of ourselves as the friendship grows from the first contact to extended years of experience. We know that having true friendships can benefit us if we are willing to trust our friends and welcome them in when we need them most and vice versa we need to be ready to be a friend who can listen at times, speak at others, and just be there for brunch on an odd day when opportunity knocks,

Some are fortunate and have the ability to easily make friends and build lasting relationships in a short time. Others might struggle to find real common ground with others and hold back on trusting their friends with heavy thoughts and feelings out of fear of oversharing and scaring away friendship. There are friends who are a mixture of these two types where one party is vastly more open and another is a better listener who shares smaller pieces back that are solidifying pieces of the friendship.

We are great as individuals, we can accomplish great things on our own, and nobody should tell you otherwise. Add any number of friendships and you will be strengthened by others and aided in your day to day conquests by supporters who believe in you too. Alone we can do many things, together we can do anything.

Listening.

Listening is a challenge for me. If you know me I a great at talking and participating in the conversation at hand but terrible at times at listening. I’m not saying that I never listen to others, I do a pretty good job more often than not. What I am saying though is that at times I have a hard time sharing the stage with others.

I think there are many out there who can relate to this thought about themselves that they are not the best at listening all the time. It can be a challenge to practice active listening when you have the greatest tale to share. However, allowing yourself to be patient and listen can dramatically change the depth of your relationships. Listening is a key element to real relationship depth. The ability to give more than just words to any situation opens the doors to genuine relationships.

Over the past year, I have started having to listen more due to my new job. Being active in listening and responding at the correct times. There are times when I’d rather be anywhere else but listening to someone complain about their frustrations and misunderstandings. When I am able to fully listen to the person I’m talking with and walk with them on through their frustrations it creates a better experience for both of us.

I have had many repeat conversations with these frustrated people when they remember our last conversation and have the confidence that we together through speaking, listening, and working together can make the troubles of the day less of an annoyance and more of a process to a better understanding.

Along with listening in the workplace, listening to friends, family, and new acquaintances that might become friends will be extremely rewarding as you work towards stronger ties with those you want in your life.