“Climbing the rope had not been a goal, but I discovered that it was a great measure of my progress.”
Last week I climbed the rope.
The dreaded rope is a recent addition to the local gym. We took out a family membership at the end of last year, and the rope was installed about 6 months later. I say installed, but this is small-town Spain — it’s actually just tied to the handrail of the stairs leading to the upper floor where they do spinning classes.
When my teenage son first saw the rope his immediate response was to try to climb it, and climb it he did!
For me it was just one more thing that I couldn’t see the point of. The rope doesn’t even go anywhere.
You guessed it — I’m not really a going to the gym kind of guy. It all started because my kids were keen to work out, and slowly I’ve been learning how to use the equipment to gradually build up my fitness level as I get to know which exercises work which muscles.
As a bonus we get to do something as a family, something that seems to be getting harder and harder now that the kids are becoming more independent.
The great thing about having a teenage son who wants to be a personal trainer is that you get free fitness lessons. The problem is that he doesn’t take no for an answer.
I became Matthew’s first test subject, a willing(ish) victim.
“OK Dad, before you do the bench-press I want you to climb the rope.”
I can’t, I tried last week.
“You can do it. Just one hand over the other.”
Remember, I have that pain in my elbow.
“Just see how far you can get.”
Hmm. I am fifty, you know.
He wasn’t going to let me off. Yes, it would be an accomplishment. No, I wasn’t sure I could make it to the top. But there was only one way to find out.
Besides, my wife was watching. So I went for it.
I remember once watching a scene from a Jurassic Park movie where, after their RV had plummeted to the sea below, the characters climb up a slippery rope in the rain to safety. Clearly they did this sort of thing every day.
In reality, climbing a rope has to be one of the hardest things ever. But this time, with a lot of effort, I did it.
“I probably hadn’t built any more muscle since last week but I had built some resolve.”
Naturally, I was quite pleased with myself for reaching the top. Interestingly, climbing the rope had not been a goal, but I discovered that it was a great measure of my progress — I probably hadn’t built any more muscle since last week but I had built some resolve.
I think my son understood that better than me. I can’t remember what else I achieved last week, but I know I climbed the rope.
As a strong advocate for intentional personal development, I understand that we all need some indicators of our growth to keep us encouraged on the journey. We all need some mental ropes to climb, things that show us we are making progress, even if they aren’t goals in their own right.
Often they are simply indicators of attitude.
Going to the gym has taught me to look at my personal development journey in a new light. It’s shown me how important these indicators are. It’s shown me that with a little effort and discipline on a regular basis, I can become more than I was.
It’s also a great reminder of that special ingredient we all overlook when we set out to conquer our mental mountains — time.
I can lift weights I couldn’t lift a year ago. I can push myself more with every passing week. I actually feel the affects every day as I notice myself standing with better posture. Suddenly I realize that I’ve not felt this good for years, and that’s had a positive impact on how I see myself at 50.
I’m discovering more about myself as I push my personal limits, and it’s a great feeling.
For me in my personal development journey, I now see that we have all kinds of indicators we can use that show us if we are actually making progress in the areas that really count.
I can look at my priorities in life and how they’ve changed over recent years; how I gauge my personal success now compared to 5 years ago; what dreams really matter to me as I grow as a person.
So how am I doing on the climb? It’s often just a matter of asking the right kind of questions…
- How do you feel when you get up in the morning? Do you still automatically hit the snooze, or are you up and ready to start your day before the day starts you?
- How do you cope with unforeseen circumstances? Are you still moaning about stuff you can’t change, or are you now part of the solution?
- How do you deal with uncomfortable situations? Are you still avoiding them, or are you seeing them as an opportunity to grow beyond your comfort zone?
- What is occupying your thoughts? Fear, worry and trepidation? Or hope, dreams and aspirations?
- How are your important relationships? Are you still taking them for granted or are they growing positively?
Remember, life is a journey. On a journey, it’s not so much the arriving that counts, rather the progress you make. Sometimes we’re flying, sometimes we’re crawling, but as long as we’re moving forward we are winning.
Lastly, if you’ve been climbing a metaphorical rope recently (or even a real one) I’d love to hear about it.