In Climbing, as in Business, Trust is Everything

Teetering on a tiny foothold 1,000ft above the ground, I stare down at my partner and yell in the most composed voice I can muster.

“Watch me here Peter. I don’t feel good about this!”

“I got you, Kev”, he hollers back, “You got this!”

Peter is holding the rope I’m attached to - he’s my belayer. This thin piece of nylon between us defines trust and is the only thing that allows me to move in this terrifying place. If I fall, Peter will catch me. I know he will, my life depends on it.

My leg trembles as I ease my full weight onto the tiny foothold. “Watch me here Peter,” I holler again. I slowly reach upwards to a handhold I’ve been spying for minutes. Almost there, I almost have it…almost…almost…crap, my foot is starting to slip…crap…almost… “GOT IT!!”

“YAHOOOOOOOO!!!” I scream as all my fear and anxiety pour out. The vast expanse of the Squamish Valley echoes faintly in reply but soon gazes back in cold silence, apathetic to this game of trust and commitment I play.

Trust is a critical component of all successful teams whether they be in the office or on the crag. Teams that display a high degree of trust exhibit a high degree of performance.

05s

I pull myself up onto the ledge, set my anchor and clip myself in. I take a deep breath and peer over the ledge to Peter far below.

“You’re ON BELAY buddy. Climb when ready”

There are few activities that demand the absolute trust between individuals like that of rock climbing. The rope attaching you to your teammate is metaphorically and literally your life line. You trust your partner with your life when you climb, just as they do you. If you didn’t trust completely in your teammate you’d remain frozen, unable to move, unable to perform. In climbing, as in business, trust is everything.

Trust is not something possessed alone but rather is something that demands a relationship. The trust relationship is formed between the one who is trusting and the other who is being trusted. A high performing team exhibits trust among all its members.