What’s your Dawn Wall?


Kevin Jorgeson & Tommy Caldwell inspired a nation recently by accomplishing a feat many thought impossible: free climbing Dawn Wall, the rock face of El Capitan in Yosemite. After 19 grueling days – representing several years of training and preparation – both climbers were exhausted, but exhilarated upon reaching the Summit.

Here’s what Jorgeson had to say.

“I think the opportunity is for everyone to find their own Dawn Wall.

We had our project that we saw to the end. What’s yours?”

While few of us may have the wherewithal to achieve this feat, we all have the opportunity to set goals, make a plan, and accomplish our dreams. The Yosemite climbers spoke of perseverance, dreaming big, teamwork, and having a positive attitude — skills that each and every one of us can apply as we think about reaching our goals.

This is a great time of year to initiate this process whether you are thinking about changing careers, starting a new job, pursing an advanced degree or getting back into shape.

As an executive and life coach, I work with clients to help identify goals and achieve results. Some clients are very specific about their goals while others are looking for help to jumpstart the process. A great way to get started consists of four steps: mind mapping, assessments, smart goals, and accountability partners.

Mind Mapping & Dreaming Big: Start by using divergent thinking! A mind map is a great tool to help jumpstart the creative process. Start with a central theme or main concept. Write down this idea in the center of a piece of paper and then build out limbs or branches related to that concept. For example, if your main goal is to start of fitness program, branches might include: start walking, join a gym – or even single word concepts such as “yoga.” The branches can be represented by words, phrases, or symbols. Use colorful pens to add flare to your mind map.

You can also use the colors to connect similar concepts from one branch to the other. . There will be plenty of time to critique your ideas – not now. Keep your options open by using brainstorming techniques such as mind mapping. It works and it’s fun. Once you have built our your mind map you can start to create a to-do list by identifying what you have completed and what still needs to be done. A great resource for more information on Mind maps can be found on Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind_map

Strengths & Pressure Points Using Assessments: Do you know what you do best? When you felt you were operating in a Zen state? There are tons of assessments out there. My go-to assessments include the MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator,) Strong Interest Inventory,  FIRO-B (Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation-Behavior,)  Emotional Intelligence/Quotient (EQ,) and Enneagram. They are sound and actionable. There are others and I am always on the hunt. One I’m currently exploring is the Enneagram: age-old but it offers profound insights for our complex world.

Smart Goals & Reaching the Summit: It’s best to identify 3-5 SMART goals: specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic and time-bound. Think about a 12-month timeframe, but that can vary depending on the goal. It took the climbers more than 12 months to prepare for reaching the summit of El Capitan. Think about stepping-stones, milestones, and celebrating small accomplishments along the way to stay focused to reach the summit.

Teamwork & Accountability Partners: Teamwork works. We can’t always do it alone. But sometimes we don’t have team members to rely upon. A great technique that I suggest is to identify accountability partners to help us stay on track and achieve our goals. These can be friends, family members, colleagues or working with a coach.

Just like the climbers who accomplished their goal, it takes perseverance, dreaming big, and sometimes enlisting the help of a partner or team member. By committing to these ideals perhaps each and every one of us can find our own Dawn Wall.

This entry was posted in Executive Coaching, Inspiration, Leadership. Bookmark the permalink.

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