I’ve had many heroes in my life but none were/are as courageous as Alex Honnold. He climbed the El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, free solo — without using any ropes, harnesses or other protective equipment! And he’s the first and only person to free solo his way to the El Capitan.
I bumped into his TED talk last night and couldn’t resist but take out time to watch a bunch of other related videos too. I’m going to link all of them but wanted to share a few insights I gained from watching and hearing Alex today. Two of the most important include:
- Visualization — the positive kind that helped Alex repeat the achievement over and over again. So much so that by the time he reached the top he felt as if he’s always belonged there. It’s fascinating to hear him talk about the powers of visualization and how it helped him conquer the fear of climbing a wall as big as the gigantic vertical rock.
- Practice, you can’t wing your way to the top — he trained climbing the El Cap for like two years before attempting free solo. He says he usually trains with the rope 95% of the time and lets it go when he’s peaking (general physical and mental preparedness).
- Face your fears — because it’ll always be there and the only way you can channelize it is by facing it so often that it starts to look, sound and feel normal to you. And the normal doesn’t scare or paralyze people.
These insights have a lot of carryover to personal and professional development, physical training, and goal-setting in general. Alex stands today (alive and well, thankfully!) as a testimony to the naysayers who believe working smart is the only way to go or that one has to be lucky to accomplish anything in life. Sure, it takes luck to climb the El Capitan free solo and come back alive but someone said it the best — luck is preparedness meeting opportunity.
Here’s an Op-Doc by the makers of the documentary film Free Solo based on the Alex’s iconic climb to El Capitan.
Jimmy Kimmel milks the moment with Alex here. This one’s super-entertaining and insightful as Alex shares the thought process behind the climb and what made him do what he did.
The documentary Free Solo is available on Amazon Prime and is an inspiring watch. And an equally rewarding experience would be an in-depth conversation with Joe Rogan. I just loved it! (Which isn’t surprising as Joe is one of my heroes too!)
I hope you’ll not only enjoy but also learn insights from Alex than can help you climb over those challenging ‘walls’ in your life.