The other night I was talking to students on the Adventure Tourism Management degree at the University of the Highlands & Islands base in Lochaber College. Although we mainly talked about the finer points of adventure and risk and reward in the mountains, the night got me thinking about what I’ve learned and still learning about balancing sport, making a living from sport, and contributing to sport. All the students are mad for outdoor sports of one type or another (usually any of them). But the challenge is always how to align work and play in these sports so you don’t end up far off the path you wanted to follow.
It took me some time to figure out that greatest progress in all three comes when they are closest to being one and the same, rather than conflicting objectives. It takes constant attention and very careful planning to get even close to this situation, never mind maintain it. It will be a constant source of hard work and application for as long as I’m still standing I think.
The biggest things I learned were that making a living from climbing would follow on from contributing to it. I started off writing this blog without really knowing what it was useful for. I had no plan, it was just fun to do. Now, it’s still fun to do but I have a clearer idea about what it can do. I write it both for you as a contribution of ideas or information, and for me as a record and crystallisation of thoughts and memories from whatever I’m doing.
A stretch on the green traverse
The formula that brings actually doing your activity and paying bills closer rather than further apart is going to be completely different for different people, depending on what they have to offer. What has worked for me (I’m not saying I’m there yet – far from it!) won’t work for the next guy and vice versa. There are only four common ingredients I think – educating yourself to find the options that are out there and add more, hard work (as always), smart thought (could be lumped in with hard work) and the attitude at the starting place. The attitude I’m thinking of is of course to wonder what you can contribute, rather than what is owed to you, just for being there or even for being talented or smart. Nothing is owed to you. Nothing is owed from you either, but if you give up time and effort freely, much comes back your way, and things work out.
Talking to students got me thinking of my own time studying and thinking ‘what will I do after my degree?’. At the time I couldn’t answer the question and just kept focusing on what I was learning at the time. I didn’t realise that this was actually the right thing to worry about anyway. If you keep getting better at offering good things to other people and can change the point of delivery as times and circumstances change, turning this into a living should rarely stay the highest hurdle for that long.
After talking for a bit, we went bouldering, and spent time battling with the green traverse.
Pics from Dan Morgan