Preparation and action are two distinctly different phases of risk-taking. In preparation, you stop and use your mind’s thinking intelligence to gather information. In action, you move and use your body’s doing intelligence to act on that information. A shift of emphasis occurs, from your mind to your body, as you stop thinking and begin doing. The effectiveness of this shift depends on how well you make decisions. Your decisions can be tentative or powerful, and lead to tentative or powerful actions.
Decisions shift you in one of two directions: committing or retreating. If you don’t understand the risk, then you’ll make tentative decisions to commit or decide to retreat. You may say to yourself, “I think I can continue a bit higher,” when you still have a lot of uncertainty about the risk. You make a tentative decision to commit, waiting until you are stressed and pumped to make a final decision. This final decision will be based on your ability to deal with more stress, instead of whether or not the risk is appropriate.
Or, you may let the sense of uncertainty overwhelm you and decide to retreat, when in fact the risk may have been appropriate. Neither type of decision leads to powerful climbing. What you need is absolute clarity.
The transition phase will have three parts: letting go of the old, a pause in the neutral zone, and embracing the new. You let go of preparation, allow yourself to be in the neutral zone to make a decision, and then embrace the new by taking action.
First, in order to let go of preparation, you need to be as familiar with the risk as possible and be convinced that you have done thorough preparation. Using your mind’s thinking intelligence to clarify the END, DAO, and POLR gives you a clear understanding of the risk and certainty that no other information is needed. Once you have this information you need to stop the preparation phase. Effective decisions cannot be made if your mind is still collecting information.
Next, you enter the neutral zone. Don’t rush into action. Allow yourself to be in the neutral zone and tap into your mind’s intuitive—feeling—intelligence to weigh the risk and make a decision. You weigh the consequences against your past experience with such consequences, getting an intuitive sense of how the risk compares with similar risks you’ve taken. If you determine the risk to be appropriate, then you set a clear intention for committing, which aligns your attention with your decision.
Finally, you embrace the new by taking action. You engage your body to do the climbing with the resolve to follow through with your decision.

TransitionsPreparation and action are two distinctly different phases of risk-taking. In preparation, you stop and use your mind’s thinking intelligence to gather information. In action, you move and use your body’s doing intelligence to act on that information. A shift of emphasis occurs, from your mind to your body, as you stop thinking and begin doing. The effectiveness of this shift depends on how well you make decisions. Your decisions can be tentative or powerful, and lead to tentative or powerful actions.

Decisions shift you in one of two directions: committing or retreating. If you don’t understand the risk, then you’ll make tentative decisions to commit or decide to retreat. You may say to yourself, “I think I can continue a bit higher,” when you still have a lot of uncertainty about the risk. You make a tentative decision to commit, waiting until you are stressed and pumped to make a final decision. This final decision will be based on your ability to deal with more stress, instead of whether or not the risk is appropriate.

Or, you may let the sense of uncertainty overwhelm you and decide to retreat, when in fact the risk may have been appropriate. Neither type of decision leads to powerful climbing. What you need is absolute clarity.

The transition phase will have three parts: letting go of the old, a pause in the neutral zone, and embracing the new. You let go of preparation, allow yourself to be in the neutral zone to make a decision, and then embrace the new by taking action.

First, in order to let go of preparation, you need to be as familiar with the risk as possible and be convinced that you have done thorough preparation. Using your mind’s thinking intelligence to clarify the END, DAO, and POLR gives you a clear understanding of the risk and certainty that no other information is needed. Once you have this information you need to stop the preparation phase. Effective decisions cannot be made if your mind is still collecting information.

Next, you enter the neutral zone. Don’t rush into action. Allow yourself to be in the neutral zone and tap into your mind’s intuitive—feeling—intelligence to weigh the risk and make a decision. You weigh the consequences against your past experience with such consequences, getting an intuitive sense of how the risk compares with similar risks you’ve taken. If you determine the risk to be appropriate, then you set a clear intention for committing, which aligns your attention with your decision.

Finally, you embrace the new by taking action. You engage your body to do the climbing with the resolve to follow through with your decision.

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. gracias por los articulos.son de un interes enorme.soy escalador profesional,tengo un rocodromo en zaragoza (spain)y el libro los guerreros de la roca es una biblia para en 90 % de los escaladores de por aqui..de nuevo gracias y un fuerte abrazo

    1. Hola Manuel, Traduje su correo electrónico con un servicio de traducción Internet. No traduce muy exactamente pero comprendo lo que usted significa. Gracias, Arno
      –Manuel’s translated email below–
      thanks by the articulos.son of an interes enormous.soy professional climber, I have a rocodromo in zaragoza (spain) and the book the warriors of the rock is a Bible for in 90% of the climbers by aqui.. of new thanks and a strong hug

  2. Hello Arno,

    When I take a decision it’s ok if I still feel stress/emotions? Or if I take a clear decisions, I already accepted whatever result I will have, I just move to the next decision point without thinking and breathing continuously. But if I fell stress this is happen because I’m not into the present moment (my mind wandering somehow intro the future or into the past). Still, our ordinary life seem to be really interesting only when we feel intense emotions. What do you think?

    1. Hi Roxana, Once you make a decision you then engage the climbing…doing it, taking action. This will be stressful. It is OK and expected that taking action will be stressful. Just make sure it is a little stressful and NOT a lot stressful. Remember, learning is converting stress into comfort and only small amounts of stress can be converted.
      Yes, once you commit, you focus on breathing, moving, and staying as relaxed as possible. Doing this will help you process whatever stress is in the climbing or situation. Stress occurs not only because your attention is not totally in the present. Stress also occurs simply because the climbing is outside your comfort zone. It is outside the type or difficulty of situations you have experienced in the past.
      Arno

  3. Thank you for the answer.
    “Doing this will help you process whatever stress is in the climbing or situation.”
    So, I recognize stress as essential part of growing process and in this way I can really respond to the situation instead of habitually reacting to it. Accepting change (of my usual way of doing) and stress as part of direct experience it is also outside my comfort zone but once I become aware of this, become manageable. Very strange, I become aware of my big resistance to change – how can I take decisions to do something diferent if (unconscious) I don’t really want to change anything?!

    1. Hi Roxana,
      Your comment: how can I take decisions to do something diferent if (unconscious) I don’t really want to change anything?

      Probably need to reaffirm to yourself that you DO value change. Life is always changing and that change causes stress. Accept that life is this way. One thing can help: If the external world always changes then you can maintain “stability” (so to speak) by keeping your attention focused on your internal environment. In other words, by focusing on breathing, relaxing, and dealing with whatever challenge you are currently facing, you keep attention on what you can control. You can control your internal environment, not the external environment. Keeping attention on the internal will allow you to process the external change and stress as well as possible.
      Arno

  4. Hi Arno,
    I find myself tending to make decisions but not fully commit to them, especially on lead. I resolve to myself that I will work a particular climb, but partway up the wall my mind tells me that I’ve made the wrong decision and I stop commiting. At this point, even if I keep going, my climbing becomes awkward and I eventually have to stop because my thoughts are impeding my progress too much. I primarily climb in the gym, and this only ever happens to me on lead, never on a toprope. Interestingly, it occurs regardless of the difficulty of the climb, although I am more able to push through it and continue up the wall on easier climbs. I believe this is because my fears are inhibiting my ability to climb but not completely shutting me down, so on easier climbs I still have enough left to keep going.

    Strangely, this never happens to me in competitions. In competitions I can get on anything and climb to the best of my ability. In fact, all of my best climbing has happened during comps.

    Also, most of my stressing out tends to be early in the climb, in the first two to three draws. Once I get three clipped, I’m good as far as fear goes, but until that point, I irrationally worry too much about falling. I know (intellectually) that falling at that point is safe, and I’ve experienced falling at or before the second bolt during comps before without incident, but something in my head says that I’m in a “no-fall zone” despite the lack of real danger.

    I’ll be in your class at Rockquest on Thursday, so hopefully what you have to teach can help me learn how to learn to deal with this.

    1. Hi Danny, Thanks for your comments. What is the difference (in how the situation–not your interpretation of it–is different) between toproping and leading? Identify that and then you know what to practice and learn to minimize interpreting that difference in a limiting way.

      Concerning climbing your best in comps. Could this be due to end motivation or feeling like you are a better or worse climber than other competitors? “I’m better so I’m expected to climb better” or “I’m worse so no one expects me to climb better.” In the former you put pressure on yourself to perform; in the latter you free yourself of expectations and can focus more directly on your effort?
      Arno

    2. One other thing Danny. Jon Richard, a Warrior’s Way certified trainer, will be teaching the clinic at RockQuest. He will take you through many exercises and debrief any questions you may have. If you still have questions please contact me. Thanks, Arno

  5. Hi Arno,
    “Keeping attention on the internal will allow you to process the external change and stress as well as possible”

    Thanks! I’ll keep that on mind. It is important not to wait for changes (as I do before) but to make voluntarily changes and process the stress as you said.

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