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5 Business Lessons Stolen from a Master Rock Climber

I hadn't heard the name Chris Sharma until just yesterday. But, now I can't stop thinking about him.

Chris Sharma is one of the (if not THE) best rock climbers in the world. Take five minutes to watch the video above. It's both impressive and breathtaking.

After first watching this video in our Sandler Sales Training meeting yesterday, we discussed the business applications that could be translated from Sharma's experiences.

There were more ideas that came from that discussion, but five stood out to me; and I've used the acronym C.L.I.M.B. to help you remember this as you go through your days and weeks - whether you connect these to running a business or specifically to content marketing.

C = Consistent Process​

While it may seem like he's a total "free spirit", it's clear that Sharma has a process. He talks about how he approaches a wall and the things that go through his mind as he looks up at the massive structure. Whether it's the side of a mountain or a rock structure breaking out from the ocean, he carefully analyzes what's in front of him, and then he tries to map out a plan of attack. While the "map" is different for each climb, the process is always the same.

L = Literal Planning

At one point in this clip, Sharma and a buddy are laying on the ground looking up at the wall he's about to take on. A part of the process, he literally plans out each grab. He may have to adjust once he's actually up there, but he starts with a detailed plan. Without a plan, he would just be randomly attempting to move up a wall, hoping he doesn't run into something he doesn't expect.

I = Incomprehensible Persistance

Represented by callouses, cuts and even frustration and depression, rock climbing is not a "easy" thing to do. Sharma said sometimes it can take years to prevail; but, he says, "...you just gotta keep coming back with a positive attitude."

M = Massive Courage

Just looking at some of the structures Sharma climbs scares me! Whether it's "bouldering" (climbing without ropes a short distance above the ground), "deep water soloing" (climbing cliffs up to 60 feet tall with only the protection of the water below) or "sport climbing" (using ropes to protect the fall), each climb requires courage and getting beyond the fear of falling.

B = Bold Risks

There's a term in rock climbing called a "dyno," which is a "dynamic" move where a climber jumps and "sticks" a distant hold. This means he has to completely release both hands and both feet with the goal of reaching another spot. (This is the move shown in the video where Sharma tries several times lurching his whole body toward a higher grab point.) In sport climbing, you have the rope to catch you if you miss. In both bouldering and soloing, you're literally free-climbing, and a miss means a drop of up to 60 feet. (Water or not, 60 feet is a long drop!) I would absolutely define this dyno move as a bold risk!

Each of these lessons clearly match our roles in business and marketing.

1. Process wins every time. Without a process, you're just floating out there.

2. Implementing the process involves a detailed plan. You'll have to be flexible, as things do change once you're embedded in a business or project; but you need to start with a plan.

3. Sometimes it's hard to run a business or to stick with content marketing when it seems counterintuitive or simply takes more time than you expected. But, persistence is key to success in both.

4. I'm always in awe of business owners and entrepreneurs. It takes courage to do what we do. The same is true for content marketing (when done right). It takes courage to help instead of sell.

5. And, finally, bold risks always end up positively - either you learn something or you succeed massively. In both cases, you win!

You may not be a rock climber, but these lessons apply to you, whether you're the business owner, a salesperson, a marketer, or an employee trying to make a difference.

So, go out there a C.L.I.M.B. today!

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