You Can't Get A Little Bit Pregnant...
Free Soloing is a form of climbing that’s done without any sort of protection - no ropes, no harnesses, no climbing gear. Nothing but a good pair of climbing shoes, chalk to keep your hands dry and your technique and wits. It’s been around for decades but came back into the spotlight in the excellent documentary, Free Solo, which profiled Aex Honnold and his free ascent of El Capitan in Yosemite, a truly spectacular and breathtaking achievement.
Free soloing is different from bouldering at gyms because it’s done at heights at which, if you were to fall, it would result in certain death. No ifs, ands, or buts. It requires an extremely high level of expertise, a ton of courage and a level of commitment to the cause that many would consider unreasonable.
And it is unreasonable, unless your goal is to achieve that goal. And if it is, you can’t play at it. You have to commit every ounce of energy, focus, sheer mental will towards this goal. Because the consequences if you don’t are unthinkable. Sure, you might commit all of your faculties and still fall to your death, but that will certainly be the result if you don’t.
That’s the price of real achievement, of breathtaking success. And it’s a great analogy for how we approach goals and objectives in our own lives. Whether it’s corporate strategy or personal achievement. Too often, we hedge, too often we dabble.
Jack Welch had a saying that you don’t ever want to be a dabbler. That whatever you do, you want to commit. Do it wholeheartedly, commit to it, pursue it with the intent of success.
If you simply dabble in it - because you don’t want to make the commitment, because you want to preserve your options, or because you don’t believe you have what it takes - then that’s all you’ll ever be.
Achieving a meaningful goal requires complete commitment and the assignment of all of your resources to get there. It requires a level of focus that precludes all other options and avenues. It requires putting yourself out there, in public, in full view, and, yes, potentially at the risk of visible failure if it doesn’t happen.
Particularly in issues of strategy (if you’re a business) or goals and achievement (as an individual), you can’t hedge your bets. You have to be known for something. You have to align your available resources to that single pursuit. Because you can’t get a little bit pregnant.
In other words, Commit. Take your chances. Put it all at risk. Don’t be dabbler.