When the warm up exercise included doing monkey bars, I knew I was in over my head.

Rewind to a few weeks ago: I noticed a post on Instagram about our local bouldering gym having a women-only beginner bouldering class.

I Fell Last Night: On Preparing For Success

It was starting in 2 days and–for some reason–I decided I needed to do it. I had no climbing experience. Not even tree climbing.

Superman might have arms of steel. I have arms of aluminum foil.

The very first class wrecked me. I was sore for 4 days.

The second class was better. But I still couldn’t get to the top of the “boulder.”

During the 3rd class,I made it higher than I ever had before. I was just one foothold away from topping it out…

…but I didn’t have one more foothold.

I held on and on and on, trying to figure out how to I could get the leverage I needed to go just one step higher.

Soon enough, my arms and legs started to shake.

At that moment, I shifted my focus from going up to getting down.

Now, there’s only one way down.


I put energy and brainpower into figuring out how to fail–even though there was a giant pad directly under me.

I already had what I needed to fail. I didn’t need to put energy into it. I could have stayed up there until my muscles gave out looking for a way to get over the top.

But I didn’t. And that’s where things got really dicey.

I’ve gotten pretty used to falling in 3 short weeks.

When I fell this time, my neck snapped back pretty good.

Eventually, I had to call it quits because I knew what was happening to my body… and that I was going to have a rough few days with some muscle spasms in my back.

Once I was up from the fall (it really wasn’t that bad), the instructor pointed out that there was, in fact, one more foothold. I just didn’t see it.

I couldn’t have seen it because I let my energy focus on failing instead of forging ahead.

Why didn’t I see it?

I didn’t scope out the route (or the “problem” as we call it in bouldering-speak) before I started.

Because I assumed I would fail.

I have failed every time I’ve attempted to climb so I didn’t properly prepare.

You can bet I won’t be doing that again. I’ll know my line of attack, I’ll have taken account of all of my resources, and I’ll know some options should I get hung up.

And if I fall again? No worries. Falling isn’t bad–but not anticipating what I need to succeed is.

Now, dear reader, this isn’t just a story about my poor attempts at climbing over a fake boulder.

This is a story about your business–of course.

I want to know if you’re planning to succeed or merely paying success lip service.

I want to know if you have all of your energy and focus on your idea of success or if you’re regularly refocusing on what will happen when you fail.

Planning to succeed doesn’t mean just having a plan or even “doing the work.” It means making decisions and taking actions that prepare your business for meeting your goals.

Are you taking into account everything you’ll need to succeed? Or are you spending more time thinking about what you’ll do when you inevitably fail?

For instance, consider your year-end revenue goal. Maybe it’s $50,000. Maybe it’s $500,000. Maybe it’s $5 million.

Have you considered how many customers you’ll have to enroll to actually hit that number?Have you considered the number of hours it will take to service that many customers? Do you have the right team or schedule to process that customer service? Do you have the right processes in place to fulfill orders?

In other words:

Is the business you have now (systems, tech, team, management, service) the business you need to hit your goal?

It’s tempting to think that you need to hit the goal first to have or even earn “that kind of business.”

But you have to build the business that has the capacity to reach your goal in order to reach your goal in the first place.

That can mean making some uneasy decisions about the kinds of offers you want to sell, the people you want to hire, and they money you want to spend. When you’ve planned to succeed and created the capacity to reach your goals, you’ll feel so much more confident actually going out to make it happen.

And that confidence will translate into action that produces much, much better outcomes.

Finally, I want to say that contingency planning is important too. You should know what you’ll do if things don’t go to plan. But don’t let contingency plans inadvertently influence the action you take. That’s how self-sabotage happens.