Ever try to reach an objective, and then experience a sudden fall that causes you to doubt your ability to reach your goal? On a recent rock climbing trip in the Nevada desert this happened to me. Nearing the summit, all I needed to do was climb through the last section –the crux. Instead I fell 10-15 feet. It happened so fast, I barely had time to shout out to my belayer who reacted quickly, taking slack out of the rope system to reduce my fall.
Lucky for me my gear held. I stopped and assessed my situation – nothing broken – but now faced a choice. I could be lowered down and deal with the failure or climb back to the point of the fall and attempt to reach the summit. I chose to make the effort and try again. Much like our business goals, we get close at times, and then something happens that seemingly prevents us from accomplishing what we set out to do. At that moment – that crux – we need to assess and make a decision.
Once I got back to the point where I fell, I reset the gear and rope in case there was a repeat. This time I was focused with lots of adrenaline to solve the problem of working my feet and hands in a sequence to reach the summit and anchor point – and I did. What a feeling when I reached the top and clipped in, thus completing the climb. My belayer then lowered me to his position and we again assessed my situation – all good.
In our personal and business lives we are faced with situations that require assessing and making a choice. I know that I had to complete the climb or forever deal with the regret. Even though my climbing partner and I were a team, this for me was an ILM or Interesting Leadership Moment and not one of bravado. A choice had to be made with strong consideration for the safety of both parties – ego put aside. It may be a simplistic analogy, but most profound realizations are. As I was going through the steps to resolve the situation one way or another – I realized how important it was to step back and assess when you have a “fall” professionally as well. Sometimes it makes sense to climb on, other times, you should get new gear, more experience, or even move to another mountain.