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Help! My Power is Leaking!


Submitted by arnoilgner on 2006-01-15

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You are seven feet above your last pro with three more feet to go before you can get more. You feel strong, but when you are climbing above pro and at your limit you feel like your power is leaking away, leaving you pumped and frustrated. All sorts of worries and doubts RUSH IN. What’s going on? Why do you feel powerless when you are leading at your limit?

You have a certain quantifiable amount of power. What you choose to do with it will determine your performance. Are you going to use it or lose it? Choosing to keep your focus on the situation will allow you to utilize your available power impeccably and will result in an improved effort. I call behaviors that waste power power leaks.

Here are some common power leaks:

1. Reacting. Does your available power go into reacting? “I’m pumped and above my pro—I need to go down.” Or, does your available power go into figuring out what is needed to continue climbing? “Wait Arno, don’t react. Do I really need to go down? Am I too pumped to climb three more feet? Is the fall dangerous?” To keep your power from leaking, observe when you react and then stop the reaction. Then refocus on what you need to do to climb.
2. Negative inner dialogue. Does your available power go into self-critical inner dialogue? “You really suck man. Pumped again. You just can’t climb. You wimp—always going down when you get scared.” Or, does your available power go into figuring out what is needed to climb. “Wait, stop this talk. It isn’t helping me climb.” To keep your power from leaking, become aware of the negative inner dialogue and stop it. Then refocus on what you need to do to climb.
3. Hoping/Wishing. Do you waste power by wishing the climb was different than it is or hoping it turns out as you want it to? “I wish this hold was bigger. I hope I redpoint this climb.” Or, do you accept the climb as it is. “I’m not going to wish the hold was bigger—rather, what’s the best way to grab this small hold? I’m not going to hope I redpoint—rather, what do I need to do to climb this route? If I focus on what I need to do to climb I’ll increase my chances of redpointing.” To keep your power from leaking, accept the climb as it is and focus on what you need to do to climb it.

You only have so much power. So, utilize it impeccably by focusing it on the situation—what you need to do to climb. If you indulge in self-limiting behaviors as I’ve described above then your power will leak away unproductively. When power leaks, you get pumped and you won’t have a solid effort. Plug those leaks by stopping reactions, stopping self-critical dialogue, and stopping wishful/hopeful behavior. Plugging those leaks conserves your power so you can use it when you need it.

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