I know, I know... it's bad grammar. I'm just askin'... How much more is in you?
Last week, I described my rock-climbing experience at one of my Seattle-based client offices. One of the invaluable lessons I took from that experience was how often there is more in us than we think or access regularly.
There was a moment - now forever imprinted on my brain - when I was on the wall and had a choice: Quit or find a little more strength to finish the last two climbs to the top. We had been trained to say the word "catch" to our belay, the person on the ground who secures the rope, who would then respond, "I've got you." It wasn't until we heard those words that we were supposed to grab the tether rope, sit back on our harness, and walk ourselves back down the wall to safety.
We were 100 minutes into our 120 minute session and I could feel muscle fatigue screaming at me from various parts of my shoulders, forearms, fingers, and legs. I had decided to follow a "track" where I chose a path of grips and footholds only of a certain color. They were, of course, placed at positions that were as challenging as the degree of difficulty you had chosen. I was following a "5:2 difficulty". Only green grips and footholds could be used. All others were off limits. I was two moves from reaching the summit and I just couldn't see the way. I could not see how to connect the greens at all, not to mention I felt I didn't have enough remaining strength to do it, even if I had seen the path clearly.
I yelled, "catch" to my belay. I might as well have yelled, "I quit."
She responded with something I'll always remember: "Do you want to quit or do you want to sit and reconsider your options?" Hmmmm.
So, she held the rope taut for me and I sat back on my harness... a few feet from success and reconsidered my choices. I looked again from a new perspective at my options, the possibilities.
And then.... There it was! I saw the way. Almost immediately my energy and dogged determination was renewed. I took a deep breath and pulled from my core the necessary strength to finish in two quick moves to the loud cheers of my teammates. I'll never forget that moment. I was ready to throw in the towel, thinking not only was there no path but, more critically, that I didn't have any more strength inside of me to bring to the task.
But I did.
And I think we often do have more in us than we know or believe, more than we pull up from our toes, from our core. This was an invaluable lesson to me that when I feel like there's no more in me - no more strength, creativity, love, patience, energy - instead of quitting so easily, I'll sit back for a moment and at least consider my options, take a breath, and just see if there's anything more to pull from.
I suspect there most often will be. I think there usually always is.