So--what makes you unf*ckwithable?
Two words: radical detachment.
It's something I'm trying to master in my business and my life.
I'm not saying I'm there just yet--but I've got a few life lessons that have led me to this.
I've been high-altitude climbing since I was 21 years old. If you know what it feels like to have hangover--then you know what it feels like to be at altitude ('cept you have to keep walking uphill with that throbbing headache--sounds fun right? )
Now, it’s been some years since I’ve climbed a big mountain. But damn, if those aren’t some lessons that stick with you for life.
The picture below is my lifelong climbing partner (and husband) Eric and me cooking at the second camp of Cerro Aconcagua--a 23,000 ft. mountain in the Argentine Andes.
This was the day after Christmas--we were still trying to breathlessly annoy the other climbers with American Christmas Carols.
I wanna say we're roughly 18,000 ft. up at this point... And, two days after this photo was taken, we summited that dusty, gorgeous mountain.
At that point it, was the hardest and most rewarding thing I’d ever done.
It was my first climb of that magnitude--and, surprisingly, it ended in success! That success was a high I craved more of.
This picture is several years later, Climbing Denali in the Alaska Range. I’m at 14,000ft.
And that’s as far as I’d go on that 20,000 ft. mountain.
That high I'd experienced from an early success didn't come.
And, not reaching the goal was devastating. Climbing a mountain of this size is a huge investment in gear, flights, supplies, and years of training--suddenly all of it felt like a waste.
After all, what's the point of giving it your all if you don't get to stand on the pointy part of the mountain?
Pass or fail. It's a simple way to view the world. But, of course, the pursuit of anything worth doing is seeped in shades of grey. It's harder to wrap your head around but necessary in actually getting where you want to go.
I wish I'd known about radical detachment then.
Radical detachment—the idea of being fully committed to the goal. 100% in. Giving it everything. And yet, at the same time, being detached from the outcome.
Such a strange juxtaposition. I'd never pursued any sort of success without the pass/fail binary fueling me. Anything less felt like "what's the point?".
But, radical detachment is NOT indifference or ambivalence.
It’s accepting that there will be unknown factors—bad weather, communication break downs, equipment problems.
It’s accepting that sometimes you will be the problem—failure to plan, not knowing whatchya just didn’t know.
In climbing, you better be 100% in. Safety for you and your team demands it.
In business, you better be 100% in. Your livelihood depends on it.
But what if all of that doesn't turn out in a summit experience or say, a 6-figure year?
Radical detachment helps you step back from the immediate devastation--and see the situation for what it actually is.
And you get to see that, sometimes, what you thought was the goal--is actually just another step toward the real one.
Radical detachment makes you resilient, unshakable, unfuckwithable in the face of all outcomes.
It keeps your head in the game; able to weather the storm; adaptable to ever-changing circumstances and new information.
So, when that $50k launch you're planning ends up being a $30k launch—you learn, you do it again.
When all you’ve invested—thousands of dollars on gear, flights, supplies; tech, designers, time, copy—just doesn’t pan out like you hoped, you strap in for round two (or three or four).
You take the risks, accepting all possible outcomes, knowing it’s all worth the pursuit. Because the pursuit is what moves the needle forward--no matter how slowly.
There really is no pass or fail. Every goal is just another step toward something even better than you planned.
And in case you're wondering...I did climb another mountain after Denali--a smaller one, several months later. It was just me and my husband.
In my case the real goal was the need to rediscover why I loved climbing in the first place--the time to unplug, push my body and my mind, enjoy nature, and have fun.
We ate our body weight in gummy bears, slept outside under the stars, woke up at 3 am and punched it to the summit. It was a blast.
I'd achieved the outcome I really wanted. And, detaching emotionally from a "failed" attempt was exactly the step I needed to get to the real success.
Did this hit home with you? Share this with a friend and help them keep climbing—and pursuing what they really want ⛰️️