So You Rock Climb

So You Rock Climb

By Kat Harling, SF Intern

I’ve always had a knack for climbing, (or, more accurately, just clambering up things). Whether it’s a fence, a tree or a rock ledge, I enjoy combining strength and finesse to scramble my way to whatever top awaits. During my freshman year of college, I figured out that my spider monkey tendencies were a legitimate sport, and I’ve been rock climbing ever since.

The type of climbing I do is called bouldering, which is performed without ropes and a harness. While many people see the belay ropes as security, I like the mobility and versatility this allows me. When I boulder, I can work on routes that have multiple paths to the top, that extend to the right or left instead of straight up or that curve along an overhang. It’s a perfect workout for my body and mind, challenging and super rewarding.

This summer I’m climbing at Dogpatch Boulders in San Francisco, which boasts the largest bouldering facility in the country. It’s been great to be able to leave LaunchSquad in the afternoons knowing that an endless amount of challenges await me in the gym. But PR and climbing aren’t as different as one might think, and I’ve found a surprising number of parallels between my time spent clinging to rock walls (and falling from them) and my time spent at LaunchSquad.

So how has climbing helped me strengthen my grip on PR? Here’s what I’ve learned:

Community is key
Climbing is the greatest sport (biased, I know) for so many reasons, but the biggest one for me is probably the community. Because it is such an individual activity, the climbing community is made up of strong, selfless individuals who are both friendly and respectful. Everyone has their own space, yet I never hesitate to ask for help, for advice or for a fresh perspective on a route or hold. When I came to LaunchSquad, I realized the community here is just the same—I am treated as a valuable, independent member of my teams, trusted with legitimate assignments and regarded as an asset with perspectives and opinions to share. I have my own space, but never feel far from a helping hand.

Don’t get locked in
As with many things in life, it’s so easy to get caught up in details and specificities in the world of PR and marketing. It’s the same when you climb; you focus on one particular hold, you start overthinking how many fingers to use in your crimp grip and suddenly you’re falling. Though the details are important to keep in mind, I’ve learned not to lose sight of the big picture. This helps me keep things in perspective, especially when it comes to completing assignments for my LaunchSquad teams. Maintaining a solid grasp of a client’s narrative and objective has helped me remain confident, even when I don’t fully understand all the specificities, and has made individual projects like briefings or event submissions seem totally manageable.

Embrace the fall
Ever seen “Stick It?” That baller gymnastics movie with Missy Peregrym? Right before the big meet, she gives a brief pep talk to her nervous teammates, telling them to go big or go home: “If you’re gonna eat mat, you eat mat HARD.” I like to embrace this mantra, as I, too, eat mat quite often. (No, really. I fall on my face climbing more often than I like to admit). Sometimes, falling hard means I finally took that risk, I finally attempted that dyno jump or I finally made it to the overhang of that V5. The greater the risk, the greater the fall, so it’s important to acknowledge your mistakes just as often as you acknowledge your achievements. A slip up, whether it’s in the climbing gym or the office, can seem scary and detrimental. Just remember that if you hadn’t taken the risk, you never would have made it to the top. No matter how nerve-racking it might be to pitch that top-dog reporter or to take that first solo stab at messaging, meet those challenges and the risk will totally pay off.

There are endless ways that my experience climbing has taught me about PR, from taking risks to staying calm when things beneath me start to crumble (this can literally happen when climbing outdoors). Just as there are numerous ways to tell a story, be it a client’s, a company’s or your own, there are countless paths to the top of the wall and countless paths to success. Whether it’s PR or climbing, just remember to breathe, have fun with it and go.

How has your favorite sport prepared you for the workplace? Tell us about it in the comments or send us a tweet @LaunchSquad.

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