The only way is up
I have a confession to make. I am not good with heights. Flying in an aeroplane is fine but standing on the edge of a cliff or even on a high balcony is not my idea of fun. Recently, on an interstate flight, I watched a documentary on Alex Hannold, an American climber, as he attempted to scale ‘El Capitan’, a vertical rock face in Yosemite National Park, California.
Some years ago, I stayed a few nights in this national park with my family. It is very picturesque and beautiful and a popular site for tourists and climbers. Only the best climbers with full safety gear would attempt this challenge. Hannold’s attempt was even more treacherous as he sought to become the first climber to scale the rock face without using ropes.
His preparation for the climb was meticulous. He was accompanied by a film crew and they followed his every move. Much of the planning was to become familiar with the dangerous parts of the climb. He would be harnessed as he practiced some of the more precarious moves. Even some members of the film crew needed to be expert climbers to enable them to be close enough to film the action. The crew member I related to the most was the cameraman on the ground who had to turn away at the dangerous sections!
His first attempt at climbing was cancelled as he was not feeling sufficiently comfortable. Given weather conditions needed to be perfect it was a further 12 months before the next attempt was made. The documentary focused on the superb preparation and skill required. He ultimately became the first person to complete the 3000 feet (914 metres) climb.
Fortunately, our daily tasks are not literally about life and death. However, in this instance the climber needed to undertake perfect preparation. It is a good message for all of us when we approach significant events. Secondly, Hannold did not lose sight of his goal and was happy to learn from his mistakes and proceed with future attempts.
Many of our students have just completed assessments. We celebrate your every success. However, we don’t always succeed at the first attempt. We can remember the wise words of Winston Churchill:
‘Success is moving from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.’
Best wishes to all students for the remainder of the term.