3 life lessons I’ve learned from climbing

Climbing is fast becoming the new ‘it’ sport. Whether you’re climbing Mt. Everest or tackling the indoor bouldering wall more and more people of all abilities are falling in love with the adrenalin rush.

Twelve months ago I too joined the climbing movement. I was searching for a hobby that - like most people who work in an office long for - combined physical exercise with mental stimulation – something that combatted my routine of sitting down for 8+ hours of the day but also challenged me mentally.

I can now say with certainty that I’ve met my match and I’ve fallen in love with climbing. Not just because it meets my needs to get moving but because, believe it or not, climbing is a lot like life. And while I’m still at the beginning of my climbing journey (and need to remember the best hand grips), I’ve definitely learned a lot from it about my life and career choices.

In order to reach the top we must first look at the challenges in front of us

Contrary to popular belief climbing isn’t as simple as getting to the top of the wall – and the coloured grips aren’t just there for decoration. Each colour marks what is known in climbing as a ‘problem’ and before you begin, you must first map your way up the wall.

There are no quick answers or straight paths in climbing, or in our careers. Instead we must make careful and calculated movements and take our time. We must also be flexible and expect to veer off course slightly, adapt to the changing landscape and circumstances. There might be one or two leaps of faith but with the right skills, training and confidence they’re simply just challenges – or rather problems – waiting to overcome.

We must rely on the support of those around us

It’s impossible to overstate the importance of those around us. In climbing they can help us to push ourselves to the next hold, to seize opportunities and challenge ourselves. Climbing also encourages us to develop trust - you can’t climb alone and you need someone to provide slack but also tighten the rope when you need it.

Our family, friends and colleagues are our trusted climbing friends: they’re there to encourage us to develop and grow and to take the next challenge. They’re also there to slacken the rope to let us rise but to tighten it too and stop us falling.

We might slip, but we must get back up and try again

At every point in a climbing career we're going to slip but it’s how we recover from the slip that really matters. Building resilience can be difficult – we might find ourselves worried to slip again or seeking less challenging routes.

If we do slip, the most important thing is to get back up and try again – if we don't we risk never climbing again. It’s the only way we overcome the challenge and learn from our mistakes.

It’s how we grow. And trust me, the view from the top is worth it!

Stephanie Kowalewicz, Research and Public Affairs Manager (and novice climber!)