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Red River Gorge, Kentucky

It was a rough morning…

Red River Gorge, Kentucky

Red River Gorge, Kentucky

It was a rough morning climbing.

I woke up really excited to climb and we hiked down to a well know crag in Meir Valley at the Red River Gorge in Kentucky to set up shop for the morning.

It was beautiful. You had to walk through an archway of a huge boulder which took us to our private oasis of climbing perched high on top of a hillside.

I started with a couple of easier climbs which turned out to be a blast. Both of them followed a great line to the top and were perfect warm-ups.

I then decided to attempt a couple of the tougher climbs.

The first one I tried was well within my range but I hit a sticking point which really frustrated me. I started blaming the rock (Crazy, I know). I then started blaming the people who put the bolts in that I needed to attach my rope to.

After much blaming, I finally had to come to the conclusion I just didn’t have it. I finally begrudgingly finished the route after a lot of struggle but I had some assistance so it didn’t feel like much of a victory.

I then decided to redeem myself on a slightly harder route on the same wall. I made it to the first bolt but could not figure out how to get to the second bolt so I had to bail and get lowered down without completing the route. It was the first route I have tried in the last couple of months that I couldn’t finish and gave up on.

That is either a testament to my willpower and tenacity in choosing to not give up or the fact that I am just not challenging myself enough. I’ll leave the judgment up to you.

Anyway, I was looking forward to getting out of that area and meeting friends of ours at a very sought after area of Meir Valley called Bruise Brothers.

It is a beautiful wall with some amazing lines.

I started on some easier routes and then decided to step up to some harder stuff. After the struggles I had on the previous wall earlier in the day I was resolved to just stick to the easier stuff but I saw a route I just couldn’t say no to.

It started out with some technical moves and then moved to an overhang with some big moves and had a great finish. I got up with no problem and started to build my confidence again.

The next one I wanted to do looked amazing but was at the peak of my ability. I’ll be honest I was scared to get on the wall. It was a huge climb with only a little crack to use about 40 feet off the ground.

Fortunately, another couple of climbers decided to do it before us. It was probably a bit of a false sense of confidence because he was a much better climber than I was and made it look way too easier.

Either way, I decided to give it a go.

Surprisingly, I made it without too much effort.

I was re-energized and wanted to test my limits for the last climb.

We shifted over to a really interesting climb.

The first part starts off as a fairly easy climb straight up the wall. At least it should have been easy but ended up feeling much harder than it should have been.

The next part is a giant overhanging roof about 30 feet off the ground that you have to climb horizontal to the ground below you and then over the top for the finish.

I resolved that I was going to have to take a couple of falls but there was no way I was going to give up on this.

What’s funny is a friend of mine completed the route just before me and still had his friend’s gear up there. His friend shouted at him to take his gear back down and put the rope directly through the anchors just in case I didn’t finish it.

Reflexively I shouted, “Leave it up there. I’m finishing it and I’ll bring it back down.” It was my little version of the “burning the boats” story where retreat and failure were not an option. I was going to finish this no matter what.

As I reached the top of the first part of the climb, I leaned back and peered over my head.

Doubts started to set in. It looked a lot harder up close than it did from the ground.

But there was no giving up. Remember, I told him to leave his gear at the top. I had to finish this climb now.

I decided to take it one bolt at a time; total presence.

There were 3 bolts and a finishing anchor.

I grabbed onto the first part of the roof, leaned back, and brought my feet a bit higher. A quick draw was within reach so I reached down, grabbed the rope, and clipped it in the carabiner.

One down, three to go.

I reached up to the next part of the roof, heel hooked the other part of the roof, and saw the next quick draw was within reach. I slowed my breath, relaxed my body, reached down, grabbed the rope, and slowly and methodically placed it in the next carabiner.

Two down and two to go.

The next one was a huge reach. I searched for a moment, found a decent hold, grabbed it, got my legs up and clipped in. I looked up and found the anchor just a short easy climb away.

I was so focused and so present that I was surprised the finish was right in front of me.

A wave of emotion and a tremendous sense of accomplishment came over me as I clipped into the final anchor.

It is easy to live life in the middle where there is no true sense of accomplishment but also no real risk of failure. It is easy to play it safe.

But sometimes, just sometimes, it is worth it to burn the boats and destroy the bridges so failure is not an option and there is a point of no return.

That is really when we are tested. That is where the sweetest juice of life can be found.

– Matt Westheimer

Cat Ba, Vietnam

The Struggle is Real

Cat Ba, Vietnam

Cat Ba, Vietnam

We are hanging 120 feet off the ground from an overhanging roof on the side of a mountain protected only by a harness that we clipped into 2 titanium bolts drilled into the roof.

Our legs are dangling underneath us are starting to lose feeling and go numb from the pressure of the harness’s leg straps. As we reach up to change our gear and prepare to repel ourselves down the side of the cliff, the harness digs in deeper into our inner thigh and cuts off more and more feeling. We have no choice. We have to keep going.

Many times throughout our week of rock climbing I found myself vacillating between moments of intense elation and extreme frustration.

Almost Giving Up

After “onsighting” (a term used for going up a route the first time without falling or stopping) a couple of challenging routes, I found myself in a euphoric state of accomplishment. This was coupled with a future route that should have been a cake walk in which I found myself almost giving up on due to the frustration of not being able to get past a certain point.

Truth be told I actually did give up on it. I got lowered back down, but in a moment of persistence and courageousness, I decided to not give up and gave it another go.

This time I made it.

I was really close to giving up, but I am glad I didn’t.

Great Metaphor For Life

I love rock climbing as a metaphor for life.

Things are going to be really hard at times. Things in life are going to be really uncomfortable and sometimes very painful. It’s important to keep going.

Sometimes you are going to want to give up – especially when no one is looking. It is in these moments of deciding whether to give up or not that your character is truly tested.

Don’t give up. Keep moving forward.

A great way to practice this is to put yourselves in situations where giving up is not an option.

I do that by putting myself in a position where I am hanging from a mountain 120 feet off the ground. Your way might be a bit different.

Either way, find your 120-foot cliff.

Sincerely,

Matt Westheimer

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The Joy and Misfortune of Spontaneous Travel

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Freediving in Koh Tao, Thailand

As I plunge deeper and deeper into the water, the pressure builds up, the water gets colder and darker, and my lunges begin to scream for a breath of air.

I am freediving in the Gulf of Thailand on the island of Koh Tao which is a little island off the eastern coast of mainland Thailand.

I have always wanted to take a course in freediving.

As a kid, I grew up snorkeling almost every weekend along the coral reefs of South Florida but I wanted to be professionally trained.

There is something so primal and pure about freediving. It is just you and the water. It brings you back to the old days when you had to hunt for food with nothing but your body and a spear.

I love the purity of it. I love how it involves a strong mental and physical aspect. I love that it forces you to be present and live in the “now.”

Every random thought, unintentional body movement or contraction, mental stress, anxious moment, or inefficient movement, uses oxygen and deprives your brain and body of this essential nutrient.

There is very little room for error. There is a real chance of losing motor control or even blacking out in the water. If you follow your training, it can be very safe, but you don’t want to deviate from the plan.

My Personality is BAD For Optimal Freediving Performance

As a Type A person, my engine is usually running on all cylinders. My mind is always racing. My body is always running. I have a tenancy to live in the future. I tend to sway in the direction of anxiety and the most common word people have used to describe me is intense.

These are not great qualities for an effective freediver.

In freediving you must live in the moment. You must breath to a point of deep relaxation before you dive down and maintain that relaxation throughout the dive. You must not stress or think too much because brain metabolism requires the use of oxygen, and when you are diving down into the depths of the ocean on a single breath, every bit of oxygen counts.

It was such a challenging and rewarding experience to be able to devote 6 consecutive days to pursuing my level 1 and 2 freediving certification. It forced me to confront my fears of deep diving and fighting the strong urge to breath. It forced me to push pass my limits of what I though was possible. It forced me to relax and live in the moment.

The Big Realization 

There was one pivotal moment I remember vividly while I was in the water.

I was really getting stressed out and anxious about diving deeper. I was putting a tremendous amount of pressure on myself to perform. I could feel my heart racing and my head pounding.

Out of nowhere I heard my mind say silently to myself: “Stop putting so much pressure on yourself. This is supposed to be fun. Enjoy the process.”

At the thought of these words, a smile appeared on my face and I decided to just have fun and enjoy the process.

I realized it’s important to challenge ourselves and do things on a regular basis that scare us. It is the only way we grow. But it is equally important to stop putting so much pressure on ourselves and just enjoy the process.

It is interesting what happened when I relaxed and decided to have fun.

My performance increased. I ended up finishing the course with an 87.5 feet (27m) free dive and a 3:15 breath hold.

This never would have happened if I let my stress, anxiety, and fear get the better of me.

Final Lesson

So what is the final lesson from this experience?

Challenge myself. Do something every day that scares me. Stop putting so much pressure on myself and always remember to have fun.

Sincerely,

Matt Westheimer

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061: Sam Walton’s 10 Rules for Building a Business

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The perfect ending to a wonderful book. Sam Walton shares his 10 Rules for Building a Business. How do you stack up?

Rule 1: COMMIT to your business. Believe in it more than anybody else.

Rule 2: SHARE your profits with all your associates, and treat them as partners. In turn, they will treat you as a partner.

Rule 3: MOTIVATE your partners. Money and ownership alone aren’t enough.

Rule 4: COMMUNICATE everything you possibly can to your partners. The more they know, the more they’ll understand. The more they understand, the more they’ll care.

Rule 5: APPRECIATE everything your associates do for the business.

Rule 6: CELEBRATE your successes. Find some humor in your failures. Don’t take yourself so seriously.

Rule 7: LISTEN to everyone in your company. And figure out ways to get them talking.

Rule 8: EXCEED your customers’ expectations. If you do, they’ll come back over and over. Give them what they want – and a little more.

Rule 9: CONTROL your expenses better than your competition.

Rule 10: SWIM upstream. Go the other way. Ignore the conventional wisdom.

In today’s episode, go through his 10 rules and share some insights of my own. Enjoy!

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052: The Man Who Built a Shoe Empire

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Very few people in history have built such an iconic brand as Phil Knight has done with NIKE. Billions of people around the world know about Nike and what Nike represents.

In his autobiography, Shoe Dog, you get a glimpse into the mind of a business legend – a man who built himself from nothing to one of the richest men in the world.

The book was incredible and the lessons learned even better. Today I share a few of those lessons with you.

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050: Creating Raving Fans

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Imagine building a business that people couldn’t stop talking about. Imagine a business where people couldn’t wait to transact with you and tell everyone they know about you. The greatest businesses in the world that have been built to last have done an amazing job at building a fantastic service or product and delivering it in a way that continues to add value to people’s lives.

In this episode, I dissect Zappos legendary process for creating raving fans that built them a billion-dollar business.

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049: The 4 Keys to Building an Elite Team

 

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photo credit: www.colinchristensen.ca

At the end of the book Delivering Happiness, author Tony Hsieh, provides us with a framework for building an elite team. It is the same framework he used to build his billion dollar company.

One the greatest keys to success – personally and professionally – is to build a great support system around you.

 I am going to teach you that framework in this episode. Enjoy!

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048: This One Thing Could Be Stopping You From Success

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Do you have that one (or more) thing in your life that you aren’t happy with but have not seemed to be able to change it?

Maybe it is the diet you have been meaning to stick to. Maybe it is the workout program that has been eluding you. Maybe it is the business you have wanted to start or improving your performance at your current job. This list could go on and on.

There really is only one reason why you haven’t been able to change that habit, behavior, or thing in your life.

Today’s episode explores that ONE THING.

Enjoy!

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046: Public Speaking and Connecting with More People with Pamela Wigglesworth

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Do you want to know what it takes to be a great speaker and a great communicator?

On the show today, I have Pamela Wigglesworth, CSP who is the recent recipient of the prestigious Certified Speaking Professional Certification which is the highest credential available to working professional speakers. Applicants must have a minimum of 250 speaking engagements within a 5 year period in order to qualify.

She is also an international corporate trainer and Managing Director of Experiential Hands-On Learning which is dedicated to helpings SMEs and entrepreneurs shorten their learning curve and accelerate their business results.

A resident of Asia for over 26 years, she works with companies across multiple industries to enhance their branding, marketing communications to get big results on a small budget. In addition, she assists corporate companies with sales presentation skills and personal communication skills. She has conducted trainings in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Thailand the Philippines and Vietnam.

In this episode, we talk about the keys to being an exceptional speaker, common pitfalls people make when speaking, and how to reach and connect with more people.

We also talk about her childhood and what has made her successful and how she ended up moving to the other side of the world and living in Asia for the last 26 years. Her story is sure to inspire you.

If you would like to connect with Pamela, she can be found at: http://experiential.sg/

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045: Do You Want to Accelerate Your Results?

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What would your life look like if you had a 28-hour day?

Many people think they would get so much more done but I don’t know about that.

I founded a leadership development retreat years ago with my best friend and we would take about 30 people up to the mountains for a weekend of self-improvement, personal breakthrough, and growth.

One of the exercises was an activity to determine how much time they waste every single day. They were horrified to see how much time was left on the table.

The reality is that if you had more time in the day you would not necessarily be more productive. Let’s make valuable use of the time we already have before we ask for more.

In today’s show, I am going to share with you how you can sky rocket your results.