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One C-Level’s Methodology for Climbing Past Fear

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to attend a clinic at my local climbing gym focused on falling and commitment. Yes, I actually paid someone to (safely) facilitate my choice to spend five hours doing something utterly terrifying. But for me, that’s what it’s all about, on and off the wall – sharpening my attention to the exact present moment and learning to work with fear, to find my edge and lean on it a little, both in climbing and in life.

Being effective in both realms requires making informed decisions, putting those decisions into conscious action and understanding the consequences of those actions. Warrior’s Way, the organization that facilitated the clinic, provides excellent mental models for this mindset along with language and practices for it. By understanding how to work with fear and how to safely fall, we can strategically diminish the chance of injury while maintaining a growth mindset and practice. The alternative? Try to avoid falling at all costs by over-gripping, powering through, or only getting on routes that don’t challenge us, which simply isn't sustainable.

The Warrior's Way school of thought can be just as powerful when we’re wearing dress shoes instead of climbing shoes. It’s easy to float unconsciously through our work days making rash business decisions, communicating ineffectively and generally operating from a place of fear. Warrior’s Way teaches us how to act courageously and with grace under pressure, and how to deal with stress effectively, as a warrior does in battle and as a climber does on the wall.

Warrior’s Way was developed by Arno Ilgner, a pioneer in the rock climbing community who formalized his methods of training almost 25 years ago. He has helped hundreds of students understand their challenges within a coherent, learning-based philosophy of intelligent risk-taking. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Geology, has spent several years operating his own geological consulting firm, and has acted as Chief Financial Officer for an industrial tool distribution company.

Ilgner’s methodology is all about impeccable use of attention. The methodology rests on the idea that everything hinges on how we use our attention and where we put our energy. The Falling and Commitment clinic provided a platform for exercising attention, stopping and moving deliberately, and connecting body, mind and breath. The clinic taught me how to assess and commit to appropriate risks on the wall, but I left with a deeper understanding of how to apply these practices when both feet are on the ground.

To learn more about Warrior’s Way, check out

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