The Management Lesson Of One Of The Best Rock Climbers Today
It’s not often that I can talk about climbing on this blog. However, a recent interview of Chris Sharma again demonstrates how much climbing and management have in common, this time with regards to hedonism.
Nicknamed “The King”, American Chris Sharma (30 years old) is one of the very best rock climbers on the planet. In addition to his outstanding performance on the cliffs and boulders around the world, he stands out by his spiritual vision of his art, considering for example that the work done to reach a new summit is more important than the achievement of reaching that summit.
This philosophy perfectly applies to one of Sharma’s latest achievements: The opening last year of one of the hardest routes in the world (5.15b, climbers will appreciate), “First Round First Minute”, in Margalef in Spain. The video below shows the work done by Chris Sharma to progressively master every move of this climb.
In a recent interview broadcasted on Planet Mountain, Chris Sharma puts this endless toil into perspective:
“I have spent years working on this route. Some of these things are so difficult for me that I have to want them more than anything else in the world. It has to mean so much. But that desire for success can work against me quite often. When you are thinking about the end-result instead of being in the present moment, it doesn’t flow. Climbing is definitely like a mental game.
I have worked on climbs where I have fallen off on the same move at the very top of the route for fifty times in a row, getting really frustrated. I am beating my head against the wall and then, finally, I am being forced to just let it go. Then, pretty much always success will happen at a surprise moment when I am least expecting to get to the top, when I am just playing around. That’s when I am free, I am myself, climbing at my best and it all kind of clicks.
But it’s really hard to create those moments; they’re just spontaneous. It’s a difficult balance because if you don’t take it seriously, then why even try so hard? To find that balance where you are just in the moment and giving it maximum effort without any kind of attachment to the end-result. That’s definitely a magical moment in climbing.”
These comments are reminiscent of the paradox of the hedonistic philosophy: An individual who is seeking happiness will not find it but one who is pursuing a higher purpose can then be happy.
This is an approach that fits perfectly in the corporate world in general and for the manager in particular: It is by focusing on higher purposes than the bottom line that leaders can give more meaning to their company’s activities and bring their employees to give their very best.