Audio eLesson_2015-0202

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I’m sixty years old. Forty years ago, I fell in love with climbing. Twenty years ago, I fell in love with creating a career in climbing. My life, however, hasn’t always been about loving what I do. Before I chose to create a career in climbing, I worked in my father’s company. We sold industrial tools, mostly cutting tools, like drills, taps and end mills, to cut metal. I didn’t like cutting tools. I didn’t like my life either. I was frustrated, depressed, and anxious.

I had what’s known as a mid-life crisis. Selling cutting tools wasn’t meaningful to me. A mid-life crisis indicates that we’ve been living a shallow existence. There’s something about life that requires depth and meaning. We’re either growing or dying. Having a meaningful life validates that we’re growing as human beings.

The critical question is: how do we create lives that are meaningful? I didn’t like selling cutting tools. That’s important to acknowledge. But I needed to go deeper and frame the problem in a direction that I could take action. I knew I loved climbing. I investigated what grabbed my interest and attention about climbing. It seemed to be fear and the mental aspect of it. Now, I needed to make a choice to create a new career.

This new choice needed to be made differently. I needed to determine what caused me to have a mid-life crisis in the first place. I needed to look at my motivation because motivation is the driver of our decisions. Our motivation causes us to make decisions that lead us to a life of frustration or a life of meaning.

There are two basic motivations: extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic motivation drives us toward end results we want to achieve. It tends to be comfort-based; we’re motivated toward what will make us comfortable. In other words, we desire the comfort we’ll feel having achieved an end result.

Intrinsic motivation drives us toward processes we want to experience. It tends to be stress-based; we’re motivated toward what is stressful, ideally stress we choose to experience. We desire the stress we’ll feel during the process of engaging the experience.

My new choice to create a career in climbing required a shift in my motivation. I had unconsciously chosen end result, comfort-based motivation when I chose to work for my father’s company. Doing that provided job and financial security, both comfort-based. I needed to value stress in order to have meaning in my new career. And, there was plenty of stress in developing the Warrior’s Way. Mental training for climbers was an unknown. There wasn’t much information on the subject.

The Warrior’s Way requires us to live our lives as warriors. Warriors differentiate themselves from ordinary people by what motivates them. Ordinary people fall victim to unconscious comfort-based motivation. Warriors are not victims; they consciously choose to identify stress they want to engage. Warriors seek such experiences because they are impeccable hunters of personal power. Stepping into the unknown—the stress—gives them opportunities to hunt for power.

My life now is meaningful. I enjoy engaging the slow, stressful process of teaching the material and finding new ways of applying it. I want to be in that kind of stress. I see myself still having a meaningful life twenty years from now, when I’m eighty.

Joseph Campbell said he didn’t think people wanted to be happy. Rather, people wanted an experience of being alive. That experience is a process; it gives us meaning and through that experience we feel alive. Don’t desire to achieve happiness; desire to engage an experience.

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This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Roxana

    Yes I do 🙂 Thank you Arno!

  2. Pascal

    Bang on! Trust me: on know deeply what you are talking about! Thanks Arno, you are inspired and inspiring.

  3. Debbie

    My desire is to engage in experiences that bring happiness.

  4. Lorenzo Inzigneri

    Thank you Arno. Looking for meaningful life, at the end, drives us to joy and happiness. When we feel that we reached a meaningful life through our actions, a door open itself and bring us to a inner happiness.
    Hallo from Trento (italy).
    Ciao Lorenzo

  5. Lutz Lang

    Dear Arno,

    since two month i´m joining an aditional education to my career that will leed me to the position of a Quality Manager. To my surprise, at the same time, you and my teacher dealt with the same topic, extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. It´s a fantastic experiance to see how things are connected to each other, and how you can use experiences in one part of your life in an other. So, you can look at your Blog as an instrument of a Total Quality Management System ;-). And I´m happy to improve my buisines skils while I´m improving my climbing skils

    Thank you for making my life more interesting


  6. david larimer

    We are all motivated by something, your wisdom asks if we what to be warriors and are willing to be motivated by consciously choosing to step toward the stresses that move us closer to embracing our personal power. Powerful challenge. Thank you!!!

  7. James k purcell

    Great read on this lovely day.

  8. Lisa Della

    Arno, could you please explain more about the link you make between stress and personal power? And what you mean by personal power?

    1. Arno

      Life is about growth and that growth includes stress. We grow mentally when we work through difficult, stressful situations. Personal power, in the ww definition, is equal to our ability to keep our attention focused in the moment on task. That’s difficult to do since stress will distract our attention. So, learning and increasing our personal power involves noticing when our attention is distracted and refocusing it on task. Our ability to noticed and redirect attention tends to be slow. So, importance of being motivated by a slow, stressful, learning process.

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