Song for the Weekend (10/31/2019)

There’s a new YouTube / Vlog music service…

I’ve been using Musicbed recently, a new music service that (for a crazy reasonable price) let’s creators use their music catalog on YouTube. They have a bunch of their playlists up on Spotify if you want to listen. Stumbled across this song…boom!…so good.

Your Goals May Be a Mirage Hiding a Cliff

People think that summiting the mountain is the goal…they’re wrong.

People think that summiting the mountain is the goal…they’re wrong.

If you start a new job, build your own business, or begin a training plan to climb a mountain, you better realize that your goal should not be promotions, contracts, or summits. All of those things are the result of a lot of hard work and dedication, but they should not be the outcome you seek.


After finishing college, I took up rock climbing to fill the void that being a college athlete had filled. Like most people I started in the gym to establish my confidence and skills, and before long I was lucky enough to befriend folks who climbed outdoors.

Fast forward a couple years and I was now an experienced indoor and outdoor climber, working part time at my local gym, climbing bigger projects outside, and even volunteering with a local Mountain Search and Rescue Team.

The more I was around my outdoorsy kin, I learned lesson after lesson…but none stuck out to me as much as this one.

It’s not about making it to the top. It’s about making it back down.

Photo by alan parker via unsplash

In the Search and Rescue world, “the way back” is always at the forefront of everyone’s mind. Why? Because SAR folks are out there rescuing people who reached the summit and didn’t plan (properly) on how to get back down to safety!! It is quite literally, life and death on the side of a mountain if only one half of the equation is considered.

The same can be said of a lot of things in life. (maybe not life and death…but failure and true long term success)

Author and entrepreneur Ryan Holiday was recently interviewed by GQ, and addressed a comment about how motivation should not be outcome focused:

I work with lots of different writers. I ask, “Why do you want to write a book?” And whenever someone tells me it’s because they want to be a New York Times’ bestseller, I’m out. Because it’s a bullshit goal. It’s a goal that you have almost no control over. So the idea that you are going to spend a year or two years or five years of your life engaging in a process to get an outcome that you don’t control is insanity.

When your motivation is not really outcome focused, and you intrinsically like the thing, I would argue that the best work comes from that place.

Bingo!

Writing a book (or climbing a mountain) is a fantastic pursuit, but when the goal of that process is only recognition (a summit in the mind of the writer) you are destined to ultimate failure. You may summit that mountain, but you will be up there all by yourself, with no plan and now way down.

You will freeze to death in the cold of desolate success. Unless you consider the whole journey.

It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters in the end.

–Ernest Hemmingway

How to avoid the outcome focused cliff

1. Don’t get locked in on the goal

Avoid being like the intrepid Wile E Coyote, who gets so focused on catching the Road Runner that he falls into the canyon amidst a cloud of dust. Force yourself to step back and look at the big picture. Only then will you see the hazards that are just past the “prize” and know to adjust course to avoid disaster.

2. A partner can keep you in check

In the mountain climbing world, a solid partner is not only competent and as motivated as you are, but will also not be afraid to tell you when to turn around. It’s easy to be so motivated to achieve the goal you set for yourself, that you lose sight of everything around you. Like a snow storm that envelopes the top of a mountain, reducing visibility to only your own feet; your career dedication has the potential to harm you more than help.

A worthwhile partner can pull you out of that haze and show you the abyss you were about to march right in to. We all want to see that life changing sunrise come over the horizon…but sunrise is when visibility is at its worst….your partner can tell you that light you see is a train about to hit you, not the sun.

3. Accept the cliche: you have to love the process

If you are reading this article then you’ve probably heard “you have to love the process” a thousand times. That’s because it’s true. In the context of this article…if you don’t love the process and are only focused on the goal you set, you will be let down once you reach that goal. Sure you’re a success…but was it at your own expense? Others expense? What’s next?

Passion for the process safeguards you from those potential pitfalls; and that “process” may mean different things for different people. For some, it may mean the actual work, for others it may be the people they work with, and yet for a few it may be the overarching mission of their organization. Either way, the passion is there and will keep you steady.


“The big picture doesn’t just come from the distance; it also comes from time.”

Simon Sinek

Implementing this ethos in your life and career takes time. It’s hard when all you see in the short term is the restrictions all around you, not allowing you to do what you would like. Yet, if you can keep coming back to those three things to steer away from that cliff…you will be shocked at how beautifully things can turn out for you in the long run.

Photo by Suzanne D. Williams via Unsplash

Links of the Week (10/28/2019)

Heady stuff this week.

What’s it really like to be an editor at Climbing? I just picture you guys out on the rock all day, doing pitches, testing free gear, hanging with pros, traveling to the latest, greatest crag, snapping photos for the Gram, and then maybe checking your email every now and then. But what’s it really like—are you guys more desk jockeys or rock jocks?

​I’ve wondered the same thing.

Ask an Editor: What’s It Really Like to Be an Editor at Climbing Magazine?

It usually takes more time to convince people that your technology has changed the world than it does to invent a world-changing technology. This is easy to overlook because we implicitly assume a technology began around the time we started using it. But most were created years, even decades, before they caught on.

Another fantastic article from the CollaborativeFund.

Why New Technology is a Hard Sell

After much discussion, they decided that a key component of the mind is: “the emergent self-organizing process, both embodied and relational, that regulates energy and information flow within and among us.” It’s not catchy. But it is interesting, and with meaningful implications.

The most immediately shocking element of this definition is that our mind extends beyond our physical selves. In other words, our mind is not simply our perception of experiences, but those experiences themselves. Siegel argues that it’s impossible to completely disentangle our subjective view of the world from our interactions.

​While this is venturing waaaay in to the realm of uninteresting for most people…I find this kind of stuff fascinating.

Scientists say your “mind” isn’t confined to your brain, or even your body

Yvon Chouinard, billionaire founder of outdoor apparel firm Patagonia, has traditionally shied away from politics. But things have changed for the rock-climbing, fly-fishing outdoorsman since Donald Trump moved into the Oval Office

This is a man (and a company) with conviction. 🤘🏻

Patagonia’s Billionaire Founder To Give Away The Millions His Company Saved From Trump’s Tax Cuts To Save The Planet

You Cannot “Do Anything You Put Your Mind To”

Think about that phrase…

Think about that phrase…

It is incredibly misleading and ripe for abuse.

Yes I said it.

Like the infamous teacher who told his graduating high school students that they were not special, I am telling you that none of us can do whatever we put our minds to.


As a kid, I remember thinking that I could jump my bike of a home made ramp. I can do anything I put my mind to right?

I may have been about 12 or 13 years old and one day I decided that I could build a ramp, set it up in my parents drive way, and jump my bike off of it. With my vast years of experience and know-how, I went to the busted up shed not far from my house, gathered some pieces of wood to make a ramp, grabbed my Dad’s hammer and some nails and went to work. It wasn’t anything fancy, but sure enough, I built a ramp.

What do you think happened next?

Photo by Mohammad Hoseini Rad on Unsplash
Photo by Mohammad Hoseini Rad on Unsplash

Nope. Wasn’t that.

“Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement.”

–Jim Horning

Do you think that Laird Hamilton just thought about surfing a 20-30 foot wave and went out and did it one day? No experience?

Hell no.

He probably spent years surfing different breaks all along the coast, keeping an eye on the weather so that a big swell wasn’t missed. Talked to other surfers who had some experience before scouting out a big wave spot that was right for him. Checked it out once, twice, three times.

I would bet he even backed off once or twice before ever dropping in on a wave so big, that if he fell wrong, it could hold him under water for minutes…potentially drowning him.

“Waves are not measured in feet and inches, they are measured in increments of fear.”

–Buzzy Trent

This image captures the culmination of my true point.

Photo by guille pozzi on Unsplash)
Photo by guille pozzi on Unsplash)

You can do anything you put your EFFORT in to

Nike says “Just Do It”.

Their marketers recognized that they are in the business of inspiring action. People don’t finish races by thinking about them.

T.S. Eliot said:

What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.

Thought can spark, mold, and give birth to something real… but the end of “putting your mind to” something should be a focused effort manifested through action.

Only through effort, trial, error, more effort, failure, adjustment, and even more effort can you succeed.


Photo by Joseph Ngabo on Unsplash
Photo by Joseph Ngabo on Unsplash

During my late 20s I worked in recruiting in the Los Angeles area.

At one point I thought to myself “I’m good at this. I can be the top recruiter in the nation in my field”.

Yet unlike when I was 12 years old with my bike ramp, I already had a few years of experience and knew what I was doing. With intentional thought and planning, I looked at what the previous year’s top recruiter had done and set my sights to beat that.

Then…I worked my ass off.

What do you think happened next?

About a year later I got a call. “Scott, you’re the top recruiter in the entire western region of the United States. Congrats! We’ll call you after the national board meets.”

I had beat the numbers of the previous year’s top recruiter and while I didn’t end up winning the national level award (I was runner up)…I still considered this a giant success. My career trajectory altered drastically after that and then only picked up steam.

My EFFORT paid off.

Photo by jesse orrico on Unsplash
Photo by jesse orrico on Unsplash

But it took time.

Don’t let thoughts of eventual success scare you away from initial failure

I’ve failed more times in my life than I care to admit. Personally and professionally. You have too.

Don’t shy away from that fact. Own it. Reflect and learn. You are stronger, smarter, and better for it. Failure is ok. Failure is a part of life.

Your effort doesn’t always equate to the initial success you thought you would have. It does equal progress and growth, even if that progress isn’t a straight line and the growth is painful. We are not special.

You cannot do anything you put your mind to.

BUT…

You can do anything you put your effort in to.

And that is special.

Links of the Week (10/21/2019)

Burnout and lack of mindfulness go hand in hand. Hopefully these will help.

A graduate student on the verge of burnout was planning on becoming a monk to escape it all. But on his quest to find peace, he decided instead to make a film about his journey. What can we glean from his experience to bring some peace into our own lives?

Escaping burnout: Using meditation to set a different course

So far, we’ve talked a lot about the Primitive Mind and the Higher Mind, and the strange tension they create in our heads. This chapter, we’re going to zoom out a bit and bring two new characters into the mix.

The first isn’t a new character exactly—it’s the combined workings of the Primitive Mind and Higher Mind: the Inner Self.

The Inner Self is the product of the struggle between the Primitive Mind and the Higher Mind. At any given moment, the way the Inner Self thinks and feels, what it believes, its values and motivations, are a reflection of the state of that struggle. For our purposes in this chapter, we’ll only worry about the Inner Self as a whole.

​Long series, but a good one.

The Mute Button

“To me, stillness is what makes life worth living,” Holiday says during our conversation. “If you have all the money in the world, all the power in the world, but you are frantic, at the mercy of your own thoughts, what’s the point?”

When you’re doing it because it’s connected deep with who you are as a person, and what you feel like you’re put on the planet to do, that’s where you’re best.

​Yes. Just yes.

How to Get Your Brain to Shut Up

It was in Pittsburgh that Elizabeth found her calling. The city’s Dispatch ran a weekly column by a self-important man named Erasmus Wilson, who called himself the “Quiet Observer.” One week in 1885, Wilson published an op-ed entitled “What Girls Are Good For.” The answer, according to him, was housework. It was unseemly and ugly for ladies to work, he wrote, describing working women as a “monstrosity.”

Elizabeth was having none of this. She penned an angry letter to the editor, signing it, provocatively, “Lonely Orphan Girl.” The letter was no work of art—Elizabeth had left school at 15, after all—but editor George Madden was impressed by its writer’s fervor. He placed an advertisement in the next issue of the Dispatch, inviting the Lonely Orphan Girl to come forward. She did, and he offered her a job. To protect her identity and her reputation, Madden soon recommended she select a pen name. The two settled upon Nellie Bly, after a popular song by Stephen Foster.

​I’m not sure how I’ve never heard of Nellie Bly before. What an incredible person.

Remembering Nellie Bly, Rabblerouser and Pioneer of Investigative Journalism