What Rock Climbing Can Teach You About Work Performance

Over the years, rock climbing has taught numerous lessons that can be applied elsewhere in life: How to push your limits, overcome fear and go well beyond your comfort zone; how to persevere and push through even the toughest obstacle (crux); how to lead a group and manage risk; how having a strategy is always beneficial and to not be afraid

Just like in climbing, anxiety and stress can pump you out and force you to fade out in the boardroom or during your presentation.

Don’t let go

Have a plan

Know when to rest

Don’t’ be Afraid

Learn This: The Over-Gripping Myth

Improve endurance by learning the science of stress

As you move ever higher above your last piece and further outside your comfort zone, you grip the rock for dear life, even though you know the route is well within your ability. Yet here you are, only halfway up and too pumped to continue—everything feels way harder than it should. Most climbers have experienced this unfortunate situation: When you get scared, you hold on too tight and waste precious energy. The perceived solution: Focus on relaxing your hands to stop over-gripping the rock, thus lasting longer. While this does seem to make logical sense, over-gripping is actually not a significant factor in this perceived fatigue. Studies in applied physiology, neuroscience, and sports medicine point to stress itself as the culprit for accelerated fatigue. Anxiety can trigger the release of a certain hormone that can make you feel more pumped and tired than you actually are. Here we’ve provided some tips and tricks to conquer your fears and prevent the dreaded pump.

Physiology of Anxiety

When we attribute poor performance to over-gripping, the situation is usually the same: We’re uncomfortable and experiencing a stress response. When we get stressed, whether out of fear, competition, anxiety, or any other worry-inducing factor, we experience a few common physiological changes. Our heart rate increases along with breathing. We switch energy systems from the slow-burning aerobic system, which runs primarily off stored fat, to the faster anaerobic system, which runs primarily off carbohydrates. Our core body temperature starts to rise, and we start to sweat more (another con in climbing). All these changes are mediated through one primary hormone: epinephrine (also called adrenaline), which is necessary when intensity suddenly increases, like powering through a crux.

If the only type of stress we experienced was the stress of exertion on the wall, and the only time we experienced it was during strenuous moves, then epinephrine would only ever be positive. The problem is that fear and anxiety cause stress before we even leave the ground, and therefore cause changes that are less positive/adaptive and more damaging to our performance. A study published in the Journal of Exercise Physiology in 2000 corroborates this: Novice climbers had significantly higher heart rates not only during a climb, but before it even began. The most likely reason for this is anxiety. An increase in mental stress causes an increase in epinephrine release, which then increases heart rate. The novice climbers began the climb with a body already in stress mode—the same physiological state more advanced climbers might only experience during a crux. This means that instead of moving smoothly through the easy sections and reserving stamina for the tough ones, precious energy gets wasted due to an unnecessary increase in epinephrine, caused solely by anxiety.

Read the entire article here:



Photo credit: Black Diamond Catalog (2012)

Best Article I’ve Read This Week: How to Believe in Yourself by Jim Cathcart

This week’s “article” comes from the master of motivation, the prince of public speaking and the sales and marketing guru himself, Jim Cathcart.

Jim is known as one of the best public speakers, strategic planners and coaches of his and my generation.  I had the pleasure of watching his TedTalk below and then the honor of virtually interacting with him.  Jim is a passionate communicator and a gentleman who can truly connect with his audience, no matter what their demographic.  A prodigy of the late Earl Nightingale, Jim helps us lay a foundation in Human Development with this insightful TedTalk.


Best “Article” I’ve Read This Week: Crushing Your Comfort Zone

This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. Till talks about how he overcame many of his own fears and how everybody can step out of their comfort zone. It all started with Till lying down on the floor in a public place. And it resulted into a world wide movement called “Comfort Zone Crusher”. Till explains his psychological concept of comfort zone crushing and how it helps so many people to tackle their fears.

“Till H. Groß … wildly crushes comfort zones.

As soon as Till finished high-school he took his education in his own hands. After reading the whole psychology section of the small town library in his city, he set out to personally meet the authors of the books that thrilled him. In 2011 he started to consciously seek out the best psychologists, therapists and coaches all over Europe in order to learn from them. Having the best teachers possible enabled him to give talks throughout Germany at the age of 19, hold a guest lecture at the University of Vienna at age 20 and conduct his own seminars, found a startup and work as a coach at the age of 21. Now he’s helping hundreds of people all over the world to tackle their fears and step out of their comfort zone.”

Best Article I’ve Read This Week: Lessons from the Paleo Guru History Forgot


More than 76 years ago, a visionary Australian coach had an epiphany that forged a generation of super-athletes: true fitness is all about translating fear into raw power.

The doctor delivers your death sentence: You’re sick, you’re incurable, you’ve got just a few months to live. What’s your next move?

Head to the racetrack, naturally. That was Percy Cerutty’s attitude. Back in 1938, Percy was a binge-drinking, chain-smoking, chronically coughing, 43-year-old Australian postal worker who was bedridden with fainting spells, blinding headaches, and a mysterious pain arcing through his legs and back. Doctors were called to his bedside, where they found him smoking four packs a day despite wheezing with pneumonia. The only debate was how much time to give him.


But amazingly, it worked. Percy bounced back from the grave in spectacular fashion. With his bonus time, he began to jog, then run, then fly: by age 50, he could run a mile in 4:54, a marathon in 2:58, and 100 miles (yup, the dead man was now doing ultras) in 23:45. He created his own nature-based lifestyle philosophy and called himself a “Stotan”—half Spartan, half Stoic.

Which means—what, exactly?

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Best Article I’ve Read This Week: Match the Right Communication Type to the Occasion

Karen Lachtanski
PR Director at My.com

Picking the right communication tool requires considering the task at hand, the recipient, a message’s urgency and how important it is to eliminate a possible misunderstanding. Comedians Key & Peele perfectly illustrated the potential for miscommunication in a video about texting.

An exchange might begin as an email conversation, transition to a messaging app and end up as a phone call. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. Consider the following communication options and the benefits and pitfalls of each:

Phone calls.

A phone call is great when a businessperson needs to reach someone right away. But it’s an interruption and one that often occurs without knowledge of what a recipient is doing. Is that person having dinner,  watching a movie or reading a bedtime story to a child?

Consider where someone is before dialing and whether the message is urgent or the conversation could be scheduled so the other party is prepared to take the call. Since there are other, less intrusive options available, phone calls should be used sparingly.

Read the full article here:



Best Article I’ve Read This Week: Movement is medicine: Exercise and intelligence

by: Dr. Chris Telesmanic

It is becoming increasingly obvious that the benefits of regular exercise go far beyond what was thought of conventionally. Of course exercise can help you lose weight, feel better, increase strength and reduce risk of injury. It also increases bone density, reduces anxiety, combats depression and prevents heart disease. But these are just some of the effects we have mentioned in previous columns. What’s truly amazing is these effects only scratch the surface of what can be gained by exercising regularly. There is one more effect which we are coming to understand more fully, and that is that exercise actually makes you smarter. There is a steadily growing mountain of evidence that proves that regular exercise is directly linked to improved brain health and function.

At some level, this has always been known. It was Plato who said, “In order for man to succeed in life, God provided him with two means, education and physical activity. Not separately, one for the soul and the other for the body, but for the two together. With these two means, man can attain perfection.”

What we have come to learn about brain health and function is that…

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