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Fear & Survival

Fear is a double-edged sword, capable of either overwhelming and paralyzing us, or focusing all our energies and strength on the job at hand, on ensuring success.

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While leading the IMG Gurla Mandhata Expedition this autumn, I read Laurence Gonzales’ new book Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why. It is a great book, which delves in detail into the mental, physical, and psychological aspects of survival. I was completely engrossed by it, fascinated page after page at the similarities his stories and examples had not only with my life and climbing experiences, but also by those I have heard others recount.

As always, I read with a pen in hand, avidly jotting notations and thoughts in the margin. I wanted to share one with you here as it resonates with something I discuss in detail in my keynotes:Deep_survival_1

It is not a lack of fear that separates elite performers from the rest of us. They’re

afraid, too, but they’re not overwhelmed by it. They manage fear. They use it to focus on taking correct action. Mike Tyson’s trainer, Cus D’Amato, said, "Fear is like fire. It can cook for you. It can heat your house. Or it can burn you down."

This is exactly the point I cover in my discussion of fear in Climb Your Everest. Fear is a double-edged sword, capable of either overwhelming and paralyzing us, or focusing all our energies and strength on the job at hand, on ensuring success. It is our choice.

Read more about my experiences dealing with fear – and using it to my advantage – here.

  1. Jenne
    JenneNovember 30,06

    Hi Jake,
    Really enjoyed this post and enjoying getting to know you through here. With my current “Everest” I have found this concept of choice is the most thrilling and the most challenging.

    good stuff!

    Jenne’

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