Whilst being mentally tough demands the resolve and perseverance to battle through the tough times, it also requires the courage and confidence to take calculated risks to achieve greater success. This often needs a push through your comfort zone to new frontiers (places), mentally and physically, that you may not have experienced before.
As a mental toughness coach I often pose the challenging question “What is the worst that can happen?”
This Marcus Leach post on climbing Mont Blanc, taken from the excellent Adidas’ Game plan A’ series, is the most extreme example to use to make the point, that to achieve great success you must be prepared to take risks. His approach, high on the mountain, whilst at his most vulnerable, is applicable in any situation where you need to push through the fear. Over to you, Marcus.
Climbing Mont Blanc had been a long-term goal of mine ever since I developed a fascination for continually redefining the boundaries of what I am capable of, both mentally and physically. It represented the next step on my journey of self-discovery, albeit a step into the unknown.
I had expected certain challenges on the expedition, although confronting death was not one of them. High up on the Gouter Ridge, I felt alive, but at the same time I felt a genuine sense of fear, a combination that sent my inner talk into over-drive.
The sense of fear was heightened by news that two climbers had fallen to their death on this exact stretch just a few hours earlier, leaving me to question my own attempt at summiting one of the most iconic mountains in the Alps.
A multitude of questions ran through my mind. ‘Why are you here?’ ‘What if you fall?’ ‘What about Kim (my wife)?’ In a bid to refocus on the task at hand, and not listen to the voice that was telling me to turn back, I tried asking myself another question.
‘What’s the worst that can happen?’
Far from calming my growing anxiety it only served to intensify it, as the other voice pointed out the suddenly obvious answer that I could in fact die.
Focus on the best-case scenarios, not the worst
Thankfully I didn’t fall, and I didn’t die. In fact, I made it to the summit of Mont Blanc, an achievement made all the sweeter for the hardships and adversity I’d had to endure on making it to the top.
At the time when I asked myself ‘what’s the worst that could happen?’ my answer was ‘death’. It was an outcome made all the more feasible given the events that preceded my ascent up the treacherous and exposed rocky ridge that leads the way on to the upper slopes of Mont Blanc.
However, having had time to reflect on the experience, and with a clarity of thought not possible when immersed in the moment, I realized that I had prepared my body and mind for this challenge and had to put my faith in my ability and skills to reach the top safely.
I was on the mountain to live life, to take risks, to face my fears and embrace them. I wasn’t going to shy away now and allow them to be my master.
Don’t live a life controlled by fear
Those who allow themselves to be controlled by fear do little more than exist, they drift through an ocean of missed opportunities, rudderless ships with no defined course, no reason to set sail and turn the bow into the wave.
As the quote goes ‘a ship in the harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for’.
By living, by embracing the world around us and by facing it eye to eye we give our lives meaning. It’s moments such as standing on the top of a mountain that breathe life into our lives, that give us a sense of purpose and achievement. We don’t have to put ourselves in life and death situations to feel alive, but we do have to be prepared to risk something.
As we force ourselves out of our comfort zones we open up the possibility of new experiences, of broadening our horizons and ultimately taking the risks that enable us to grow and succeed.
Is it not better to spend ourselves in a worthy cause, risking failure, than to be a spectator in the greatest game of all?
View full post and some stunning photographs
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