The one sport every entrepreneur should try at least once

The one sport every entrepreneur should try at least once


This blog post is about one of my favorite activities – climbing. It's by many considered an "extreme" sport even though these days most people practice and climb indoors in climbing gyms. A safe, regulated and social activity. But that doesn't make it less amazing. In fact, climbing isn't insane. It's highly focused, rewarding, thrilling and perhaps the best sport for entrepreneurs.
Let me explain why.

Climbing rewards tenacity and stamina

If you're looking for easy wins, climbing is not for you. As you start doing it, you will quickly master the basic techniques but you will eventually hit a wall in your learning. At this point, development goes more slowly. I strongly recommend finding a more experienced climber to team up with who can give you directions. This sport is 90% about technique, not muscles (as most people seem to believe). The twist of a shoulder or ankle will unlock a body position that helps you get past that crux (climber talk for the hardest part of a route). If you do bouldering, a very accessible kind of climbing done at low heights (4 meters at most) without harness, you will get used to trying and failing over and over. The mental tenacity and the do-it-against-all-odds mentality you grow through all this is something that is an asset in the office as well as on the rock face.

It forces you to develop awareness about your mental barriers

You will eventually be facing a section of a route or wall you cannot get past. You will probably tell yourself it's impossible. But if you don't give up and keep trying, you will crack it. And once you do it will be obvious to you that what was once impossible, is now not just possible, but easy. You will have reframed the problem and also realized that what stood in your way was your belief about it being impossible. You will eventually start recognizing your own mental barriers and learn how to overcome them, or refuse to give in to them. A skill that comes in handy in your work as well.

There's a highly visible development curve

You will not fail to notice it once your skills start improving. You will be able to climb higher rated routes (they are rated almost like ski slopes) and you will also be able to reflect over how your techniques have improved and put it all in perspective. That growth will strengthen your confidence in your skills and propel your development even further.

It makes you face your fears

I am dead scared of heights. In fact my fear of heights was the reason I started climbing. Plus I like gear and I think ropes are cool. Sometimes I hang on the cliff face, telling myself this is the last time, only to make it past that section and go at it again later the same day. Fear can be managed and managing your fear of heights can be a first step towards managing other fears you may have.

It helps you practice problem solving and lateral thinking

In climbing, tricky sections of routes are called "problems." Rightfully so because they all have solutions. A solution is a sequence of moves, of hands and feet, that allow you to pass. More often than not, these moves aren't physically demanding but require creativity. You may need to use your heel instead of your toes, or your palm instead of your fingertips. The solutions aren't obvious and require lateral thinking. The double reward of climbing technically difficult routes is that you strengthen your muscles and sharpens your problem solving skills.

It's rewarding, mentally and physically

When you aren't hanging on to a small ledge and adrenaline is shooting through your veins, and all you can think of is the abyss below you, it can be hard to remember that climbing has its moments. For all the times I've been seriously thinking of swearing off this pastime, there are countless more where I've accomplished something I didn't think was possible. As a whole, climbing has helped me grow as a person and as an entrepreneur. Strengthen my resolve and confidence and helped me look down my fears.

What are you waiting for?

If this sounds like fun, you should go find your nearest climbing gym, rent a pair of shoes and try out bouldering. Or find a friend who climbs and they'll be able to belay you, for rope climbing. If you're in Stockholm, send me an email and I'll help you out.

See you on the crag!
Photo: misbass