To the reader: Gnarly Nutrition asked me to write an article about tactics for projecting that could be applied to all sports What follows is my full-length article that is more geared to climbing, a condensed version can be found on Gnarly’s blog.
“Our great mistake is to try to exact from each person virtues which he does not possess, and to neglect the cultivation of those which he has.Marguerite Yourcenar, Memoirs of Hadrian
I once existed most beautifully between the moment when I pulled onto a particular rock climb and the moment in which, for the only time, I did not fall off.
It was my first real climbing project and I was enraptured by what it was giving me. The process altered the view of my own possibilities, lengthened the horizon upon which I now gaze.
Still, when the dust of my eventual success settled, my priorities were left in a harsh light for me to examine. Due to my neglect, a good relationship that brought me joy stagnated and ultimately failed. While I nurtured an incredibly enriching and life-long friendship with my climbing partner, I strayed away from others and lost valuable work and life experiences.
It was simple, in the end, to realize that the positive outcome was so rewarding because it was never guaranteed. It’s a rule true in any field — the larger the investment and risk, the greater the payoff. For me, this payoff came in the form of strong and profound feelings of flow, a direct result from how much the route demanded of me. Throughout the process, I discovered great enthusiasm and devotion. In essence, I liked the way it made me climb, and, despite what I later viewed as sacrifices, liked the way it made me live.
Equally, when you strip away the nuances of a sport — of running your fastest, lifting your heaviest, or climbing your hardest — you will be left with what makes a project incredibly difficult, and incredibly special.
When you try, there is always an inherent risk that your aspirations may not align with your abilities or your opportunities. You will, consequently, expose yourself to failure and vulnerability. When it doesn’t work out, the ensuing sting can weave its way straight to your core, a part of which is normally guarded during the pursuit of goals in which success is highly likely.
Though I have never regretted a project, I have become more intelligent about respecting their complexity. Each and every time, I learn that the mental approach I take before I pull onto the wall is as important as the climbing itself.
The advice presented here is geared towards the rarer, large projects which demand a significant investment of time and sacrifice, but are useful for a project of any type.
So, you want to project…