Tuesday 27 April 2010

What school can’t teach you about climbing hard

I just did some interviews about my climbing for various publications. The questions, in one way or another, ask “what is your secret”? It’s especially relevant in my case as I can’t answer that I’m naturally strong, or thin or talented or started climbing before I could walk.
I’ve given roundabout answers for years, not understanding the underlying theme myself. In parallel I’ve tried to understand why climbers I’ve coached plateau where they do with apparently all the practical ingredients to keep improving.
Recently I’ve thought and talked a lot about school and it’s effects down the line. Sad as it makes me to say it, I learned my ‘secret’ to doing what I have when I was away from school, which happened a lot.  A lot of school is about explicitly or implicitly working to fit in. To attain the satisfactory standard of your peers and nothing more. The minimum necessary to get an A and then you can coast. But good performance is by definition not fitting in. You won’t find the solution to the technique, motivation, training, financial, practical or unexplained problem that’s holding you back, by waiting for your teachers or peers or someone on a forum to tell you.
I’m not saying they are useless - they are essential for pointing you in the right direction and supplying the initial shove. After that you roll to a stop pretty quickly unless you start producing your own momentum.
Fifteen years of learning to wait to be told what to do and put in the minimum amount of work is really hard to unlearn. Start now!
In the rest of this post I’ve given some pratical examples about how this idea helped me specifically and also some famous climbers. It’s maybe a bit technical for this blog, so I’ve posted it on my coaching blog.

1 comment:

  1. Thought provoking! Recently came in to teaching after 20 years in other jobs and motivating kids is the biggest problem. In some ways there is a parallel with your idea in "9 out of 10..." about fear pf falling - but instead it's "fear of failing" in schools (by both the teachers and the pupils). Schools don't like messiness!