Attitude is everything
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Attitude is everything. It’s the quote of the day that graces the workout sheet for the first practice of the fall cross country season each year.
Attitude is a powerful and transformative thing that can help you soar to new heights or sink you faster than a pair of concrete boots in a lake.
A person’s attitude, when confronted with a challenge, can take a negative and turn it into a positive.
Hilly run? A chance to get stronger. Rainy weather? A perfect opportunity to prepare for the unexpected. Hard workout? It’s how you get faster and makes dinner taste that much better.
I know firsthand how easy it is to let a sour attitude take over, causing you to make excuses instead of inviting challenges.
Hilly run? I’m a little sore today, how about the flat course. Rainy weather? I think I’m getting a cold, time to sit at home and read a book and eat chocolate. Hard workout? Maybe tomorrow, I’m feeling kind of sluggish.
Attitude is equally important in climbing.
Last summer I experienced a poignant reminder of how attitude can shape experience when I tried an obscure route in Rifle Mountain Park called Czech Mate. It wasn’t a climb I was particularly inspired by, nor was it a famous and well-known route that would be a proud accomplishment.
Instead, I first climbed Czech Mate because a friend was trying to succeed on a route immediately adjacent to it, so we happened to be set up right there. On that first day, I only made it halfway up the route after much struggle, frustration and repeated falls, sometimes in an awkward and terrifying fashion.
I was particularly scared by a move thirty feet up that forced me to put my body in a strange contortion that made me feel like I could fall at any moment, head first, into the rock.
To put it gently, I was not excited about the potential outcome, and, to top it off, the climb is of a difficulty that I didn’t expect to struggle so much with to conquer.
A week passed and I returned. I still had a bad attitude about the climb, but nonetheless hoped to complete it without falling, despite my pathetic first attempt.
I flailed, barely making it to the top in horrific style, and walked away humbled and angry. I fully expected that I would never try the route again and if an earthquake left the cliff face in a tumbled heap at the bottom, then so be it.
Another week passed and my climbing plans for the day changed at the last minute to include my two young children.
Watching a one-year-old and a three-year-old while climbing tends to lend itself to easy, relaxed climbing – it’s not the type of day to set big goals.
But, I was anxious to get out of the house and do something and my friends selflessly agreed to help watch the little ones.
My expectations for the day were low but my attitude was positive.
I felt like I had nothing to lose, although I had no intentions of climbing Czech Mate.
But, there I was, at the base of Czech Mate, with my two kids playing happily.
The scene was busy with people and I don’t like climbing in front of people, particularly when I am likely to fail.
However, I thought, why not just try the route? The other routes in the area are taken, the kids are happy and I probably don’t have a lot of time left in the day to do anything else.
Just like that I floated up the route.
Well, I didn’t float, but I climbed the crux of the route unexpectedly and I screamed with terror through the frightening stance.
I climbed with confidence and relative ease on moves that a week earlier I had struggled on.
When I lowered, I had a fluttering in my heart and a grin on my face that wouldn’t go away. I couldn’t believe I had actually climbed that route.
I quickly searched for answers.
The most obvious one was that my attitude had drastically changed from the one I employed earlier.
I wasn’t physically or mentally stronger but my attitude was devoid of fear and negative expectations. For the first time, my attitude helped me focus on climbing instead of all the outside excuses.
Now, I wish I could get in that mindset each and every minute of every day. But, attitude is something to be practiced and trained just as we train our bodies.
When we train our attitudes to be positive and productive, they can be the driving force behind our success.
– Mike Schneiter is a Glenwood Springs H.S. teacher and coach, owner of Glenwood Climbing Guides and is a Brooks Inspire Daily athlete.
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