Why some people will climb 9a and some won’t

I recently read a post by Tom Randall praising Kranko the Klown for his motivation and psyche, which probably helped him climb a “trickyish route of unspecified difficulty which may or may not be hard for other people…”. Said trickyish route does indeed look quite tricky, and let’s be honest, most of us are always going to be too shit to climb even the easiest of tricky routes. But why are some of us shit probably not reaching our potential? This is clearly the 21st most pressing question in British climbing, and as a man who has experienced varying degrees of shitness falling-distinctly-short-of-his-potential over the last year, I’m going to answer it.

To be brief, Randall is right, its all about motivation. Some of us just care more than others, are more psyched, think more about all things climbing-related, give more of themselves and just get really freakin’ obsessed. I’m pretty sure this is ‘the secret’. Now, if you don’t have ‘the drive’, its probably hard to imagine just how much it helps. I reckon I had a decent amount of it last year before I won the dumbfuckery award in Norway, and now, to all intents and purposes, it’s gone.

This does suck, but at least I get to assess how useful ‘the drive’ is: quite, really. First, remember the last time you had a brilliant session, when you were psyched, you turned up with a plan; everything was going well, you put everything into each go, just to complete that next set (i.e. you really cared); and you were extremely analytical of the intensity, your technique, your tiredness, and so on. But you don’t wildly thrash yourself, it’s focused, calculated and pragmatic. Imagine it was like this every session, even when everything doesn’t go well and you don’t feel like you imagine Megos does.

Sounds like a lot of effort to me at the moment. But if you have ‘the drive’ it just isn’t. It’s not conscious, it’s not forced, giving up is never an option because it doesn’t occur to you to do so, and it’s consistent. You do it all because you really fucking want to, not because you feel like you should, or because you expect yourself to.

So I guess now the 22nd most pressing question in British climbing is ‘how do I get me some ‘drive’!? Ask me in a year and I hope I have an answer!

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