By Dennis Culloton, President and CEO
They made it. The whole world was watching –and exhaling–as rock climbers Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson reached the top of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park using only their hands and feet in a first-ever free climb.
The so called “Dawn Wall” was considered one of the world’s most difficult climbs, almost impossible…until now.
There is a lesson for business executives, entrepreneurs and crisis communicators or for anyone taking on a tough job.
“You can do anything if you work hard enough,” said Jorgeson on “CBS This Morning.”
And what was he thinking? “That I didn’t want to be the guy that almost climbed the dawn wall.”
Boundless optimism mixed with a fear of failure. Does that sound familiar?
Jorgeson said the climb resonates with people because “everyone has their own Dawn Wall.” For me, that can be getting up to tackle a day of running a business and dealing with clients in crisis. It reminds me of my old friend, New Orleans lawyer Tim Meche, who once told me there are two kinds of people: those with a grip and those that are hanging on with their fingernails.
Caldwell and Jorgeson no doubt were hanging on by their fingernails at certain terrifying moments. But they had a grip on their mission, even if their goal was so beyond belief.
Here is why: the climbers planned and trained for the El Capitan climb for 7 years. Seven. Years. That training made the daunting 19-day climb look possible.
“Climbing is more a journey of passion than it is about seeking thrills” Caldwell said.
Working with clients who are seemingly on the precipice of disaster or managing my own self-made problems seems a lot more doable today. Don’t look down, keep climbing, and prepare, prepare, prepare.
“It took me 7 days to get past a single section of the climb,” Jorgeson said in his interview. “It took a lot of resolve to stay positive and see it through.”