Climbing is tough. You stand at the bottom of a huge cliff and stare up at what seems to be an insurmountable object ... a wall that was not built for climbing. After all, we use stairs and elevators now, why would anyone want to climb up a cracked wall?
My fear of heights adds another dimension to this. While I can usually keep it under control, sometimes looking down from the top of a cliff can cause me to panic. Nothing major, just shaky hands, nervousness, and a sincere desire to GET DOWN.
Working my way up the wall helps me conquer that. I start, standing at the bottom of the face, sometimes tethered to a rope, sometimes not (don't tell my parents). The face is a stranger to me. Whether I've climbed it before or not, each ascent is unique. Your fingers never find the same crevice twice, even if it looks like you're climbing the same way you did the day before. It's an art, really; fluid, like music, but mixed with harsher dynamic moves, slips, and precarious balancing acts that make the listener (observer) jump to the edge of their seat in anticipation.
Once at the top, I have the opportunity to look back down in wonder at the height I've surmounted, and reflect on the energy, effort, and emotion I put into my climb. I haven't conquered the rock, it's helped me conquer my fear. When I started out, I was afraid of the rock, and the height it held at its peak. I was worried about the climb to the top, will I fall? will I make it? will the rope catch me? how much farther 'til the top?
I might be afraid of heights, but the journey up a sheer rock face replaces my feelings of anxiety with rushes of adrenaline and euphoria. I made it! The act of climbing up the rock rather than climbing a staircase to the top helps me bring everything down to size. I feel larger than life and can accomplish almost anything. I use that to fuel my next ascent, usually on a harder, more challenging face.
Business is very similar. I'm in the process now of building a company, a daunting task for even the most seasoned businessmen and a seemingly impossible one for me. There's paperwork to fill out, planning to be done, partners to be found, and an to-do list so endless it makes Santa's naught/nice list look like a memo. At times, I feel like I'm standing at the base of a cliff, trying to decide whether to climb it, or go back home.
There are hundreds of businessmen who have faced the same problem, and who have ably attained the peak of their personal cliff. Not by eliminating steps in the process or trying to take a shortcut up the back side, but by partnering with the journey of entrepreneurship and letting the impossible face carry them to the top.
I know a few who enjoyed the accompanying euphoria so much, they immediately ran to find a new cliff to climb, a new business to start. In business, I would probably never understand "serial" entrepreneurs, but I find a kinship with them in climbing.
Starting a business is frightening. To be honest, it scares me every day when I realize what still lies ahead. Then I remember that it's all about the journey, the now. Staring wantingly at the destination and wishing for the project to be over betrays the spirit of what I'm trying to accomplish. I need to think more like I do when I'm climbing and take the project one step at a time, one hold after another.
This is just one of the euphemisms I use in my daily life. What do you think about to keep going when the going gets tough?