…and immediately feels satisfied by climbing harder than some, and makes excuses for why he’s not climbing better than everyone else. This man’s name is Josh Thompson.
They say jealousy isn’t becoming, but can you imagine your name there instead of mine?
I do want to climb better, though. I just don’t want to be motivated exclusively by jealousy.
Are you your own worst friend?
We know climbing is about “self discovery” and “self improvement” and “you vs. the rock, rather than another team/person”.
I like it this way; I was never much for team sports.
That said, the same kind of competition that would drive someone to be better in a team sport is the same as what would drive someone to be better in an individualistic sport like climbing.
If you were on a team you would go out and practice and drill, so you could be better at your sport, say soccer, basketball, rugby, whatever.
The thing that motivates individuals to play better on a team is the same thing that motivates climbers, but we run into a problem when we start thinking about how to improve.
We’re told over and over that all that matters is that we have fun while we rock climb. We internalize this and tell ourselves this to justify our own performance on the rock. Allowing yourself to get comfortable with stagnation is one of the worst things you can do to yourself.
Alex Lowe, one of the top mountaineers in the world said: The best climber is the one having the most fun. Easy for him to say. He’s the best. He doesn’t have to look at other people casually climbing something that he’s unable to climb. He can have fun and be the best climber.
I don’t know about you, but I have more fun when I’m climbing hard stuff than easy stuff.
Lets accept this premise: Getting better at climbing requires work and short term sacrifice.
Assuming that is true, why should anyone try to improve at climbing?
Getting better at climbing is not necessarily about climbing.
I can hear it now:
If training for climbing isn’t about climbing, what the heck is it about?
It is about excising control in at least one area of the world. It is about pushing outside of your comfort zone, and living to tell the tale. It’s about getting uncomfortable and tired and sacrifice in pursuit of a goal, because the process is fulfilling.
I need to feel a sense of progress in my life. I want to feel progress in many domains of my life, but climbing is a big one, especially if I’m not feeling progress in the other domains. When I am training for climbing, I scratch that itch to get better.
Here’s another reason that I’m less eager to share, but already did:
I’m a jealous person. When I’m out climbing with groups of friends, I don’t want to be the weakest, and it would be really cool to be the strongest. I’m usually neither, but if I don’t hustle and get better, I’ll get left in the dust. I’m motivated in part by simple vanity.
Getting better at climbing is about being alive.
I associate a lack of progress in any specific domain with stagnation. I associate stagnation with death.
If I don’t improve, I feel dead. I want to improve at climbing to prove that I am still alive and kicking.
What do you think? Do you want to get better at climbing? How badly? Are you willing to sacrifice for it, or do you gladly self-identify as a “casual non-improving climber”? Why?