Jul 10, 2012

Entrepreneur Lessons in Rock Climbing: Four Ways to Run a More Strategic Business

Rock climbing is one of my favorite things to do. It’s hard work, painful, and dangerous, but I thrive on overlooking the earth from hundreds of feet above the ground with nothing but my hands holding granite or sandstone spires.

Like rock climbing, running a business can be hard, painful, and dangerous. For most people, though, the end result is well worth the effort. Here are four tips that I follow in rock climbing that I’d like to tie into entrepreneurship.

1. Visualize the route. Before climbing a route, I try to memorize the wall and see where the best holds are. Then, when I start climbing, I can rely on my memory to help me complete the wall. In running a business, before you make a major decision, a business plan will help you know the general path you will take. However, remember that the real world, like a rock wall, does not budge, and you often have to adapt your plan.

2. Use less muscle. A lot of inexperienced climbers try to muscle their way up a wall and end up being too tired to finish it. Similarly, many business owners think that being successful is about persistent hard work. While this helps, you can’t simply throw money and labor into a problem. Sometimes all you have to do is think strategically.

3. Watch your footing. Inexperienced climbers’ biggest mistakes are often in their footholds. For various reasons, they don’t pay attention to where their feet go, and they slip in the effort to reach too high with their hands. Some business owners make similar mistakes. For example, in an overzealous attempt to succeed, a business owner may make a decision without considering the current state of the business.

4. Don’t be afraid to fall. Part of getting better at rock climbing is actually falling. When you know you are attached to a rope, you can push yourself harder and not be afraid of slipping. Then, when you do fall, you just learn to climb smarter. In running a business, success often happens after a series of failures. If you’re doing mostly everything right, you can learn from your mistakes and eventually climb to the top.

It takes a little cash to change the world.

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  1. Great inspiring read and insight, however I wish we had more rock climbers and entrepreneurs in the world. The misconception we have regarding success as it relates to mistakes is we never consider the mistakes and lessons learned from them. A baby may fall and crawl for many months before they gain their balance and learn to place one foot in front of the other to begin their first steps. Unfortunately the world frowns upon entrepreneurs who may have fallen in the early stages of their path to entrepreneurial success which means in order to reach entrepreneurial goals we must have laser focus and self determination along with thick skin.

  2. Thanks for this comparison and to Derrick for your response. I especially like the 4th comparison between rock-climbing and entrepreneurship. I think it is the most accurate analogy. And as Derrick related, a baby is a natural learner and does so with joy in her/his growing capacity overlooking or learning from any errors.

    Finally, have either of you ever read Ayn Rand’s book, Atlas Shrugged? I’m rereading it now and it is a fine, absorbing read. I can really identify with it’s protagonists in many ways. I would strongly recommend it!

    Great going!

  3. Thanks for your comments, Derrick and Donna!
    Donna, I have not read Atlas Shrugged, but I’m a huge fan of Ayn Rand. Very inspirational author. I’ll have to check it out!

    • Hi, yet again, Tyson! I see the mistake I made. My comment disappeared probably because I went to look at some of your other articles, and it’s still awaiting moderation. I hope they’re all printable here! Peace be unto you!

  4. Love the 2 and 4.

    Hell if you don’t wanna fall you should’t be in the game, right? :-)

    And yes, a strategic approach helps a lot in business. Also being reactionary helps a lot.

    Thanks for the write up!

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