I wrote this post last year when I was about half-way through my Slackline Challenge and realised that I never published it…happens a lot. I write something and think I just want to edit it a bit and then forget. In this case I decided to publish it now, despite the delay. Visiting Freiburg in June I actually went back to the slackline and tried crossing it again – I wasn’t able to do all I could do last year but then I have been without a slackline for over seven months so I’m not too surprised…it was still cool to be able to cross it, even though I lost my balance trying to turn around.
The post from October really just contains some thoughts on perseverance:
It is erroneous to think that success should come easily as a result of being naturally gifted. Perhaps, to a certain degree, natural aptitude does play a role – but the greater part is hard work, discipline and perseverance.
I once had the chance to listen to a concert pianist practice.
He had started playing at a very early age and it was soon apparent that he was gifted in music. He received tutoring and was supported and encouraged to develop his talent and pursue music in his studies. He would practice five hours a day, sometimes more.
That dedication was evident in listening to him.
What does it mean to persevere?
Am I someone who perseveres?
I think the three questions that influence whether or not I persevere are:
1) Is it worth it?
2) How badly do I want this?
3) Do I believe I can achieve the goal – or am I heading towards failure?
If I am pursuing something but continuously pondering these questions in my mind, it is unlikely that I will press on. If I am not convinced that something is worth it, if I am not fully engaged or if I have doubts about being able to reach the finish line – these thoughts alone are enough to hinder success. Like I wrote in my post on marriage and running – if you start running a marathon but don’t commit to run to the end, you probably wont. Committing and making a personal decision to follow through help you to focus on your goal and to give it all you got.
But how do you answer these questions? I think everyone has their own way of weighing up priorities, risks and setting goals. I find that for me, it is really important to allow myself to actually care enough about something to really fight for it. To permit desire, passion, determination. Sometimes not caring is more convenient – because that way you are never disappointed. But then you also miss out on the joy of experiencing what you dreamed of, or achieving what you set out to do. You need to dare to care and spell out exactly what you are going after – and then not allow the fear of failure or the uncertainty of whether or not you have what it takes distract you.
It is like climbing. Choosing a route to climb is risky. What if I go up half way and realise I lack the strength to finish? What if I slip and fall?
Once I was climbing in the gym and my climbing partner suggested a route with a slight overhang. It looked like an interesting route and I wanted to give it a go – but when he pointed out a few things to watch out for after the overhang I replied something along the lines of, “I’ll keep that in mind if I even get there!” He responded that I probably wouldn’t if that was the attitude I started out with!
And its so true. I need to face a task with a positive “I shall conquer this” attitude, rather than a non-committed “we’ll see how this turns out”. I need to be focused on the goal, rather than distracted by the fears or possibilities of everything that could go wrong.
I also experienced this in slacklining. I am now half way through the slackline challenge and its been so much fun! The first few days I felt I’d made a lot of progress and was very excited to be more and more comfortable balancing on the line and taking several steps. Then I had to pause for three days because I had no slack line or it was raining – but somehow I expected to be just fine starting up again. Wrong! I felt like I had to practice a bit more before feeling the same confidence on the line as before. It was discouraging – but instead of letting that bother me I decided to take it as a challenge and put in more effort to regain my balance. In the end, I managed to cross the slack line and successfully did some turns on the line – both of which were goals I had wanted to achieve. I also learned a few things about myself and how I work best. I realised that its easier to slackline when there aren’t a lot of people around to distract me and its also easier during day light, because I can see my focus point better. While walking across I usually focus on a point in the distance on the other side of the line and that helps me to keep my balance.
So once again, I find that sport offers a nice metaphor for life. In slacklining you want to keep your focus, ignore distractions and just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Keep going. Don’t let people’s comments or your own fear of falling stop you from pursuing your goal. And don’t compare your own achievement to that of others! I watched some videos on youtube of slackliners doing amazing tricks on the line and its easy to feel silly celebrating my small victories compared to their jumps, flips and longlining or highlining – but that’s not the point. I am not competing against them, my goal of what it means to conquer the slackline is defined by me, not by what they can do.
And the same is true for life! Its also important to stay focused and not compare yourself to other people. Don’t let fear or people’s opinions dictate your next step. Celebrate your big and little victories and don’t mind if you fall, just get up again.
At the end of the 30 days I had completed all my goals.
When I started on day 1 I went from not being able to balance at all to being able to balance on either foot and count to 20 and take seven shaky steps.
After thirty days I wanted to be able to:
– balance on either foot for as long as I like (say 2 minutes)
– walk the length of the slackline and back again
– get up on either foot without losing my balance
– change direction midway
I was able to do this after 28 days, some things sooner. Achieving some goals quite quickly, like balancing on one foot or walking the length of the line,
I tried other things like:
– the chongo mount
– the sit mount
– jumping onto the line
– jumping on the line
– lying on the line
I was not always very successful with those things…but it was fun trying. My highlight was being able to do a really short highline in the climbing gym with harness 🙂 (I didn’t measure it, would guess it was 3m high and 4-5m in length)
This month I am doing a new 30-Day-Challenge – its a 10-minute work-out every day. I was inspired by the Monsoon rain which makes it hard to do any sport outside. I realised I was getting rather moody, was not sleeping well and felt the need for exercise…I was always a bit skeptical of work-out videos but its been fun and I intend to keep it up. It usually ends up being more of a 20-30 minute work-out but saying 10 minutes makes it seem like I could definitely fit it in any day of the week and tricks me into getting started – and persevering to the end! 🙂