Create Your Own Beta

I started up the boulder problem and got to the spot where I kept getting stuck, unable to figure out the feet.

When I fell off, one of my friends on the ground commented, “That was a weird way to start. I mean, it worked for you, but it was interesting.”

He was not the first person to comment on the weirdness of the way I did the beginning of the problem.

I knew when I first started trying it that the hand I was reaching up with was opposite from what was intended, but it made the first move easier for me. For a while, it made the next move harder, but then I discovered a way to do it that actually felt great.

So I ended up climbing the beginning very differently from most people, but it was actually the easiest way for me. I played to my strengths and ended up exactly where I needed to be.

In climbing we talk a lot about beta, and friends and fellow climbers are always sharing it with each other when working on problems. But what works for me might not work for you, and vice versa. You might be shorter or taller or stronger or more flexible, and that means you can do things I can’t – or that I can do things you can’t. We all have our advantages and disadvantages.

I eventually figured out the whole problem I was attempting, but I couldn’t have done it without my weird beta.

Sometimes you have to find your own way, whether up a rock or through life.

And you’re the only one who knows what feels best for you. So create your own beta. Do things your way. Follow your own path. Even if it looks weird. Because weird might just be exactly what you need to get where you’re trying to go.

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