Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Rock Climbing and Business Meetings

In college I took up rock climbing pretty seriously for several years. A friend introduced me with top-roping and from there we ramped up to lead climbing routes. The highlight being a 5.9 route on Cathedral Ledge called Recompense.

Now many years later I am a geologist and frequently attend meetings, be they staff meetings or client meetings, and I have realized that there were many things I learned rock climbing that carry over into these meetings today.

First: Pee
While preparing for a climb we would always relieve ourselves before putting on our harness and start climbing. Once your 200 feet above the ground there is no real chance to stop, unbuckle and go. Plus if there was anyone under you, you may leak on them.

In business land going into a meeting with a full bladder will only keep you distracted, uncomfortable and not focused on the tasks at hand. Leaving the meeting in the middle is usually not an option and if you do you are metaphorically pissing all over the rest of the attendees.

Second: Set a Route
Knowing where the climbing route was, where it goes and what to expect was always key in a safe and enjoyable climb.

The same goes for a meeting. Preparation and knowledge the topics, tasks and intent of the outcome always make for a more productive meeting.

Third: Anchors
Ascending a vertical face of rock is a dangerous thing. Placing fall protection every 10-20 feet is an absolute necessity. Not only that but, setting a solid anchor, one that won’t pull out if you did fall, is even more important. 10 feet above your last piece of protection is a 20 foot or more fall.

During a client meeting the presentation there should be solid points along the way as you speak or go though your tasks. It can prevent unraveling of your point, or if you do have to fall back you only go back as far as your last anchor.

Fourth: Team Work
Every good lead climber has a partner on belay; watching your moves, anticipating your direction, slips, falls, hand signals and body language. One who is alert and ready to lock off the rope, steady your life line and save you, if necessary.

A project manager is nothing without his/her team. Imagine a client meeting about a particular project where extensive site/field work is conducted. The team member needs to listen, watch and stay alert throughout these meetings. Ready to step in and assist the PM with a detail specific question since the team members who are actually on location are always more familiar with the little details.

Five: Success is Sweet
Toping out on a days climbing can be rewarding and exhilarating. Looking down over that rock face, knowing you just accomplished something most people would be afraid to even think about. It gives you a great sense of accomplishment to know that you were able to conquer the difficult.

Leaving a meeting knowing that you were able to confidently speak about a project and the details or assign project work, schedule new tasks. Walking away saying to your self “That was a good meeting. Productive.” and even more importantly getting the client to believe further in your skills and abilities and leave the meeting with the thoughts of comfort and control. There is no better way to prove your self at work than at these times.

Thanks to the following for images a lifted from google image search:
Coding Humor


  1. Good stuff...and right on the mark too!

  2. I would love being on the peak. Don't think climbing would be a good idea for me though, my hands starting sweating as soon as I saw the picture.