Diminishing Returns

Our son is now into Rock Climbing.

Which means I am, too.

Plus, for those who know me, I love mud running, and the best ones have some level of rock wall obstacles.  So – added bonus to improve.

Mitchell wanted me to join him at the local rock climbing gym in order to learn and experience what he’d been enjoying so much.  Hey, a shot of exercise, challenge, obstacle improvement and time with my son – I’m in.

What a great setup! And what a difficult and unexpected challenge! I learned a lot that day as Mitchell consistently preached the “conserve energy” and be “fluid” gospel of rock climbing.  Specifically, for those who know this world, we were Bouldering. This involves free climbing specific pathways up to 14 feet – no rope – and with varying difficulties.  The floor is heavily cushioned, so there’s little danger of any major physical damage.

After an hour or so of gaining a new appreciation for grip strength vs muscle strength, as well as the impact of hesitation and delay on the climb (major fatigue), I found my nemesis course. It was a relatively challenging “newbie” climb I conquered earlier in the day. Well, doing it toward the end was the challenge. You see, after all that climbing – gripping, pulling, swinging, etc. – my strength was clearly in a state of diminishing returns. So each time it actually started getting harder, especially when I tried to muscle through this climb.

It occurred to me that this is a great life lesson. We put our shoulder to the wheel and nose to the grindstone and wonder why we are having so little success, at least for the effort put out. Simple – too much time in that position leaves us with a dislocated shoulder and not much left of our nose!

Research I’ve seen says we begin experiencing diminishing returns mentally after about 90 minutes. We’re all slightly different, but none of us is immune to the concept. 

We all need breaks. We all need downtime. We all need to get re-energized.  Take lunch, go for a walk, do some stretching, read something worthwhile, call your spouse or kids, or maybe…go home.

By the way, I did end my day with success on that last climb. With more finesse than strength, some good coaching and a short break, we made it happen!