Last night Steve and I went to see Tim Emmett talk. He is a rock climber, base jumper, wing suit man and also does the speaker circuit from inspiring kids to get outside and be active to corporate speaking about his experiences. Tim was recently pitted against Jeremy Clarkson driving an Audi while Tim and Leo Houlding went straight up the face of the Verdon Gorge. It doesn’t often happen but this time around Jeremy lost the race to the climbers.
We got there early and were fortunate to be able to get a book signed by Tim. His talk was for me personally really insightful. During his talk Tim touched on the fact that he has techniques for calming himself, you know – when you are just about to base jump off a bridge (as you do) or most likely for us every day folk, if you are about to deliver a presentation. During Q&A I was able to ask him what these techniques were. I was stoked firstly to be able to get a chance to ask him and secondly that he seemed genuinely surprised and pleased to have been asked this question.
What he revealed in his answer seemed so straight forward but I guess as it is often with things in life until someone points out the obvious it doesn’t occur to you. But mostly it is probably because you just have to be ready to really hear the answer.
So, what was his answer?
First – relax. Well that’s obvious you say. No, RELAX. Drop those hunched shoulders, unclench those fists, loosen those muscles that you didn’t realise were so taunt.
Second, breathe. Focus on it, be aware of your breathing (or lack of!). Control it.
Finally, SMILE. I like that one. A smile always makes things feel that less scary.
Later that evening I thought back over a lot of things he talked about. Often at these kind of events I remember snippets but mostly I just enjoy the photography and videos. Tim’s talk really stuck with me. I think what struck me was that this guy who has done incredible trips all over the world, base jumped off the Old Man of Hoy, climbed El Capitan etc etc, still gets scared. Strangely that was a revelation to me. He is in way scarier situations that I have ever been so surely I can get it together.
I had a chance today to put this in to practice. We had a scheduled day off work and went to The Snow Centre again for a ski. As much as I enjoy the snow I have often found it quite stressful as I ALWAYS over think things too much. I want to go but I’m scared of getting injured, looking like a knob etc.
Usually my 2 hours of skiing consists of 1 hour of me tentatively approaching the slope. A few goes with my poles on the baby slope. Then a break. Get up the courage to go onto the large slope. Stand at the top of the large slope, contemplating all the ways I could fall over, what I might hit, who else is going, are they going to take me out. Then it is a snow plough start, followed by a tentative wobbly left turn, then a right, woooooo watch out for that pole, wobble, wobble, heart palpitations, flail the arms…get to the bottom and now I have to rest before doing it all over again. I NEVER fall over. This is a key objective. Too much effort getting up, what if I hurt myself etc.
Today was so incredibly different. Everything seemed to fall into place. I took Tim’s advice and went into action. Straight up the main slope today. Straight to the edge, shook away the stress off my shoulders, shook out my arms, breathed in, out, smiled and went for it. I don’t know how many times I did that slope but 1 hour 30 minutes later I was exhausted. I had been all over the slope, even headed straight down it to work on some tighter turns, poles had been ditched and I even improved the skating technique (needed when you want to get around on the flat areas without poles). Today I truly had fun! I even canned it 4 times. Huge wipeouts! It was great. This meant I had really, truly been pushing myself. As mentioned during Tim’s talk – “If you’re not falling, you’re not trying”. Well I fell a heap today and it was great!