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Alfred Ball's Entrepreneurial Blog

Health Care Entrepreneur | Kinesiologist | Author | Presenter

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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Finding Confidence Climbing a Mountain

The trails and mountains in North Vancouver are where I go when I need a boost of self-confidence which was soaring after setting a new personal best on the Grouse Grind on Wednesday and then receiving the bag check No. 111 on Friday, just before attempting my second triple multi-Grind.

Businesses have their ways of measuring growth and success often in sales or profit. Even those of us who complete athletic events have our own measures. What we measure is usually what brings us personal intrinsic meaning while keeping us striving for our goals.

In business circles it is well know that what is measured is managed". A business can only change, adapt and grow if it is measuring itself against some type of standard.

Confidence is built each time a goal is reached, however we often end up lost if we don't know what that next goal is, especially after major accomplishments.

I remember the months of dedicated training to complete the Vancouver Marathon as vividly as the mixed feelings of elation and disappointment as my finisher's medal was placed around my neck. The standard of finishing the marathon was achieved. The Marathon was a way to prove to myself that my previously sore knees (which took years to rehabilitate) were strong enough to endure 42.6 miles of running. I had forgotten to set the next goal; it took several years to find another athletic endeavour. A couple of years ago I discovered the Grouse Grind's timer card.

Each climb renews my sense of accomplishment while each descent on the tram reminds me of the beauty of Vancouver. Trail running is often a way for me to reconnect with nature on my own. If there are any days I am in need a boost of self-esteem I know the mountain is not far away.

One thing that keeps me going is the knowledge that my fitness level is increasing on an easy to measure standard which my self-confidence.

Between my second and third ascents and during my second gondola ride down on Friday a woman asked "why do I do the Grind? Am I training for anything?" I replied "to keep the comb webs out." I kept thinking of Fuaja Singh who finished the Toronto Marathon at 100 years old, surprising himself with a time of 8:26 hrs. It is the active agers who keep me inspired to keep moving and challenging my own abilities as I age. My tram conversation also inspired further reflection and analysis.

I am training to be the fittest I can be and in comparison to those in my age group. My season goals include single climb time, average heart rate reductions for the climbs, total number of climbs in a day and 100 climbs for the season. Every outing I wear my Garmin Forerunner, both as a back-up to the timer, but also to measure my heart rate and set quarter interval times for my pacing and motivation.

Each outing I measure the duration for each quarter, total duration and average heart rate for the entire climb; this is then compared to previous days with similar times.

Last week I accomplished three milestones:

Personal Best – 37:58 minutes (top 30 in my age group)

95th Lifetime Climb

Second Triple Multi-Grind

Wednesday was just one of those days when my body felt fluid and like it was moving fast. After looking at my second quarter time of 9:11 (a new PB), I knew that if I could do the same for the third quarter in a similar time I had a good chance of getting under 38 minutes. Looking at my watch it was 9:15. Yes! Now it was time to push to the top.

From that point it was about going as fast I could and repeating to myself that I could do this. Swiping the card then pressing the lap button my watch – I carefully looked at my watch. There is a notice of the last lap time to covers the current time – I could see it was 38, "did I do it?" The timer is the official time. Flying up the stairs I cautiously looked at the computer screen as it scrolled towards my name – 37:58! Yes, with a fist pump. Even with having to tie my shoes once I broke the 38 min barrier three weeks before I hit 38:04 in 2010 so, clearly there is an improved level of fitness.

Looking back over the season I found out that Friday's triple was accomplished in 9 minutes less than my first one and each ascent was on average was 3 minutes faster than my first triple and a slightly lower average heart rate than on September 3rd, 2011. The third climb on Friday even felt stronger than my third one in September. I started out pretty fast, but then remember – the goal for the day was really about crossing the finish line.

Next was getting up on Saturday morning to finish my 95th climb. Maybe the fatigue set in, I am not quite sure but I forgot to double knot my shoes again – so there I was pulling off my magic gloves to tie my shoes in the cold, twice, once for each shoe. I clamoured over the top in 40:05.

What does it all mean? The rest of Wednesday I was elated. This confidence spilled over into the rest of the day at work and with clients. Saturday's climb left me confident that I can finish the remaining five to reach my one hundred and most in less than 40 minutes each. It is also really motivating to group my times and look at very similar times to see that the average heart rates are dropping for those times. The confidence on the mountain flows over to the rest of life. It builds self-belief and self-esteem.

I climb the Grouse Grind because it reminds me that I am getting fitter and how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful city with mountains and forests in our backyard. Each climb I know that I that I am making some progress and that with diligence there will be the occasional breakthroughs. This week there were several. After last week's successes on the Grind, I am feeling more focused to tackle what needs to be done in my business this week.

If you are struggling with confidence in your business or feeling unsure of yourself go out and do something that you know you can complete - big or small. Keep doing the day-to-day things that will lead to success and greatness.

What do you do when you are looking for that extra little bit of confidence? For me, it is climbing a local mountain.

(photos top to bottom: Grouse Mountain Grind Timer and bag check card; West view of the Lions and tram tower; north view of Seabus docking at Waterfront Station)

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