091. John Beede: Mountaineering, values, and growth (transcript)

Highlight [0:00]

Chapter’s show notes…

John (00:00:04):
If I step on a stage or if I get on a podcast or have any conversation. And I think, “What does Craig think about me? How am I going to do here? Are the people listening, liking what I’m saying?” That’s a selfish approach and that’s draining because then I’m in my head. I’m not present. I’m not here. Instead if I think, how can I connect best with Craig? What are the people listening, going to get the most value out of? How do I give the stories that are going to create the best experience for listeners?

Intro [0:36]

Chapter’s show notes…

Craig (00:00:38):
(chapter) Hello, I’m Craig Constantine. Welcome to the Movers Mindset podcast, where I talk with movement enthusiasts to learn who they are, what they do and why they do it. This is episode number 91, John Beede, mountaineering, values and growth. Climbing Mount Everest and the Seven Summits is a huge accomplishment for John Beede, but it’s only the beginning of the story. He discusses his newest book, The Warrior Challenge and his reasons for writing it. John shares his experiences from mountaineering and climbing Everest, and why climbing is important to him. He reflects on his journey overcoming post-traumatic stress disorder, what he’s learned from climbing and advice for others starting out. John Beede is an adventurer, author, speaker, and one of few people to climb the tallest peak on every continent, including Mount Everest. He has traveled to 67 countries, survived avalanches and PTSD, and more recently has settled down to enjoy competitive kite surfing.

Craig (00:01:46):
John is also the author of three books sharing what he’s learned through his adventuring and mountaineering. His newest book is called The Warrior Challenge: 8 Quests for Boys to Grow Up with Kindness, Courage, and Grit. For more information, go to moversmindset.com/91. And two notes for today. Lots of authors do lots of podcast shows where they’re doing the circuit, promoting their book. I think you’ll find this deliciously rambling conversation with John is not one of those typical podcasts. And just in case you’re thinking, “Oh no, Craig’s going to go off endlessly about rock climbing again.” Wait, no, actually John and I talked mostly about everything else. If you enjoy this half as much as we did recording it, I hope you’ll share it with twice as many of your friends. Thanks for listening

The Warrior Challenge [2:37]

Chapter’s show notes…

Craig (00:02:39):
(chapter) Today I’m here with John Beede. Welcome John.

John (00:02:42):
Hey, welcome yourself.

Craig (00:02:44):
I just love introducing people by saying welcome. And then they don’t know. It’s strange. Normally I record in person. I go to your place and then I say, “Hey, welcome.” And then they look around, “Dude, you’re at my place, but.” Thank you-

John (00:02:55):
That’s what I thought right then. I was like, “Shoot, I’m on his podcast.”

Craig (00:02:57):
Yeah. No, this is your podcast. This is your platform. So I’m going to dive right in. And I want to say that I’m going to guess that transitioning from the doer phase, like go seek after the challenge that you set for yourself of climbing those mountains. Transitioning from that doer phase to being a person who’s doing inspirational speaking, who’s writing a book, who has to actually step forward onto the stage figuratively and literally put yourself out there. I’m going to guess that challenge was hard like life transitioning hard. And I’m wondering if you can tell me a little bit about how you navigated from the pretty clear, “Here’s the challenge. Here’s my next step. Here’s what I got to do to get there.” To, how do you put yourself out there as like, “Okay, now I have the answer.”

John (00:03:44):
That’s an awesome question to start with. So climbing and speaking and writing all developed together. I was a 22-year-old, fresh out of college graduate and I had this passion for rock climbing and the more I would go rock climbing, the better stories I had, which then allowed me in turn to give better speeches and the better the speeches got, the more money I had in order to go on bigger and bigger climbs. And you could either look at it as an incestual cycle, or you could look at it as a really clearly-

Craig (00:04:14):

John (00:04:16):
… A clearly defined virtuous cycle. Yeah. Or I did the Tim Ferriss lifestyle of figure out what it is that you want to do for yourself and then make a really clear plan in order to go make it happen. Well, this book, The Warrior Challenge is that you’re right. The first time that since Seven Summits were climbed, kind of came down as the wise man so to speak from the mountain top and said, here’s what I’ve learned throughout the journey. And the reckoning or the self-confrontation came in the writing process because in all the stuff that I really wanted to say, “Here’s what’s real, here are the most bad-ass adventurers I’ve met and their stories and what makes them good human beings and how do we emulate those guys or those people.”

John (00:04:58):
That was where I had to say, do I actually live up to this stuff in my life? And that was more challenging than saying, “What if Craig doesn’t agree with what John says?” Because I already did the work in advance. I already…

Craig (00:05:16):
I agree. I agree with you, by the way.

John (00:05:18):
It makes for a better conversation. But well maybe some contention would be entertaining.

Craig (00:05:26):
Yeah. So if you’re within the sound of my voice, go read the book. I don’t care whether you’re 42 or 24 or 14 or five. Read the book. And I contemplated making a challenge of I’ll buy the book for the first 100. No, I’m not going to. But really go read the book people. It’s-

John (00:05:43):
It’s a rite of passage.

Craig (00:05:45):
It’s like 10 bucks on Kindle. I mean, you know the fry guy from Futurama, “Shut up and take my money.” I feel like that’s the thing. I liked Sir Ernest Shackleton’s adventure. Oh my God. There’s a great book called the South With Endurance, which I’m guessing you’ve read.

John (00:06:08):
Two separate books. So there’s South and then there’s also Endurance.

Craig (00:06:11):
I’ve read them both. Boom.

John (00:06:13):
Nailed it.

Craig (00:06:14):
I didn’t realize they were two different books. I read the book and then I got whichever the other one is I got the larger coffee table one and I’m reading the book and I’m like, “This sounds really familiar.” Then I realize I have both of them. I had read them both. But what I was going to say, sorry, was that in your book, I don’t want to say make Ernie approachable, but you bring his accomplishment within reach of… I think you do bring it within reach of somebody who might be like, “I don’t know why can’t I figure what to do with my life. I’m playing video games.” But they might have heard of him or they’ve heard of famous quotes like it’s not what you do to the mountain, it’s what the mountain does to you.

Craig (00:06:51):
There’s so much stuff, I think that is so far out of reach that I think your book does a great job of, I want to say connecting, but making it like, look, here’s where you start. Here’s the first thing that you do. And that to me is the piece that’s missing. I don’t think that certainly not for me that anybody ever said, okay go do this and then come back and turn the page kind of thing. So that I think is what, in my opinion, makes the books succeed and be a good not just a successful, but also a really high-power tool for getting people. And it’s thin enough that people can read it. And unfortunately I only read the Kindle version. My paperback isn’t here yet. But people have the opportunity to like, “This isn’t a scary book.” So I don’t know if there’s anything more [crosstalk 00:07:37].

John (00:07:36):
Well, how do you get young men, especially interested in learning grit, in learning self-awareness, in learning stepping up as a human being or choosing their values? Those are pretty intense subjects even for adults. But I’m like-

Craig (00:07:51):
That’s of like, “Does it work?” If you hand someone a book or just the little thing about the teacher appears when the student is ready. Does a book work better than Clint Eastwood, Gran Torino like, “Here is what you should…” you know what I mean? Does it work better or is a book even a more challenging tool because it’s not a visual video meme? What are your thoughts on how well does it actually work? Throw it to people.

John (00:08:16):
Good, great question. I think it works better than a video game would or a movie would, even though that would be the more visually stimulating and entertaining thing. How many kids leave a video game that they’ve played and said, “Now I’m changed as a human being.” Very few. Maybe they go and play Grand Theft Auto and shoot up the neighborhood. I mean, there’s real stories about that that were desensitized to violence. But if you get into a book like this and if you read this with your son, your grandson, your nephew, the young man in your life, or you read it yourself, the principles apply for everybody. It’s just geared towards young boys with the crazy, amazing adventures that are in here like Shackleton, like Danny Way jumping over the Great Wall of China, me climbing the Seven Summits.

John (00:09:03):
These are the stories that are role model emblems for young men to live up to. And because they then have these role models, it’s life-changing because if you’re having a problem with your son or the kid in your life, you can say, “Hey, what would Danny Way do right now?” Instead of saying, “No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. You did this, you did that.” There’s no nagging needed when these emblems of these principles like setting healthy boundaries, choosing great friend groups, avoiding toxic people in your life, choosing equality for all people around, finding your purpose. These are the most bad-ass if I can say stories and that’s why it becomes more life-changing than a film that was two hours or [crosstalk 00:09:47]?

Craig (00:09:47):
Something you just experienced. Use your words, Craig. Your discussion of boundaries, I thought was a really wonderfully sometimes somebody will say something or write it or you’ll read it. Somebody will say something and be like, “All right, duh, I have that as a plank that I’m standing on.” But I can literally Craig can no longer remember what it was like to be 12. Gone. I mean, I have stories that I can tell maybe from 12, but it’s not, I don’t know who that person was anymore. So I think laying out these simple like have boundaries, that’s a pretty simple statement. But nobody that I’m seeing really sets that as a, “You need to set boundaries.” “Wait what?” And then those things build. The only cure for boredom is curiosity.

Craig (00:10:40):
And how do you get people interested in big grand topics where you show them some interesting piece of it and then they get hooked? And I think your distillation or the threads that you’ve pulled out of your personal journey. I mean you must’ve learned boundaries and you must have learned obviously about human sexuality and these things. You’ve pulled those threads from your life and you’ve bound them together in or woven them together. If you want to beat the metaphor to death. You’ve woven them together into this what I think is great book. So yeah.

John (00:11:08):
Thank you.

Craig (00:11:09):
You’re very welcome. Thank you for writing it.

John (00:11:11):
You want to dive into the boundaries thread there?

Craig (00:11:14):
I’m torn between doing a little light-hearted skit about the tandem skydiving sex metaphor, but make people just leave it at that, go read the book. Because that I’m like, “That’s totally it.” I had a course in college where they did the sexual metaphor education as a high dive off, you get in line with the diving board. Well, let me get the top, there’s a whole bunch of people behind you. It’s like peer pressure, but I’m like tandem skydiving is way better. We’ll leave it like that. Go read the book about tandem skydiving. Let’s do the boundaries. Because I really think boundaries is, was it the first? I think it’s one of the early ones that you-

John (00:11:49):
It’s the fourth challenge.

Craig (00:11:51):
Right. But in the second part of the book like the other three, so give me the structure of the book.

John (00:11:56):
So structure of the book is you’ve got your weapons mastery, which is understanding yourself and it’s all in warrior language. So weapons mastery comes first. The second is defensive upgrades and that’s where your boundaries start coming in. So now you’re starting to learn how do others act and react and how do I connect with them? And then the last phase of the book is choosing your battle ground. And that’s all about, how do you find your purpose? How do you live your life in a way that uplifts and uses all these principles that you’ve learned about yourself and others to live a significant and meaningful life, or at least start yourself in that direction as a young man?

Craig (00:12:30):
[inaudible 00:12:30] that’s set for a second before I start talking all over it. I love the power of three. And I don’t know, it’s just, it’s everywhere, books in three parts. And I’m not-

John (00:12:44):
Three Stooges. There’s the Holy Trinity, you’ve got three Caballeros, threes are everywhere, man.

Craig (00:12:51):
The good, the bad and the ugly, right?

John (00:12:53):

Boundaries [12:54]

Chapter’s show notes…

Craig (00:12:55):
(chapter) Oh my goodness. Where shall we go? Let’s talk a little bit more about boundaries because part of what I wanted to do was like, yeah, let’s do a little bit of nuts and bolts. Let’s talk about the book a little bit, because I think it’s tough for people to find time. If you’re not going to read the book, maybe hearing us talk about it for a few minutes as a chapter mark in our podcast will help. So let’s talk a little bit about boundaries because that one really leapt out at me as like, “Oh yeah, I remember when I forgot to do that part or didn’t know that part.” Was there a moment or a transition in your life where you’re like, “Oh yeah. That’s where I learned the lesson of boundaries.” Is that something that you can point to that you’d want to point to?

John (00:13:31):
I didn’t even know that it was really cool or okay to say no until I was in my 30s. I didn’t know what boundaries were and the first time that it was presented to me, I was like, “That’s such a silly concept.” Little did I know that I was just people pleasing and giving away my power and my energy to other, to anybody who would ask for anything. I just thought I’m going to give, give, give, give, give. And that resulted in me being completely spent exhausted. And so this buddy of mine I meet in Indonesia, we’re climbing Carstensz pyramid. And as tribal war breaks out, there’s guys wearing basically loincloths shooting arrows at each other. And they block the way that we were going to hike back out after we had reached the Summit.

John (00:14:14):
And the other direction is the world’s largest gold mine. And there’s these guys guarding it with machine guns. And we’re just pinned there in this valley with thousands of feet of cliffs on either side of us. So we can’t move. We just have to wait this out. So I’m talking with this guy who his name is Wally [Starvu 00:14:32] and he’s got this Romanian accent and he’s telling me, he starts just like we’re lying in a tent. And I’m like, “Wally, what’s your life been like?” Just chatting. And he tells me that he just goes into the story saying, “I grew up in Romania, communist influences. And one day I said, screw that. And I went and bought seal blubber from a fisherman’s market, the fat of a seal. And I smeared it all over my belly. And I planned out that I was going to…” He says it this casually, but what he does, he makes this makeshift wetsuit, swims across the icy Danube River covered in seal blubber. Reaches Yugoslavia, still smelling like dead seal.

Craig (00:15:17):
Dead seal.

John (00:15:18):
Hitchhikes. Gets in a car and hitchhikes across to the Austrian border where the Yugoslavian guards stopped him, threw him in jail, caught him. He spends a year in jail. As soon as he gets out of jail he does the exact same thing because he met a guy in the jail that taught him the pattern of the security guards on the Yugoslavian side. Gets finally safely into Austria, applies for asylum, gets to Chicago, becomes a Chicago City firefighter. And he said he set boundaries. He said, he’s like in his very, very colorful Eastern European language. He’s like, “F that, I’m not living by…” He said, “That doesn’t work for me. That’s what I want. That’s the standard I’m demanding. And I’m going to make that happen.” So that’s the emblem story of this chapter. But then if we break it down, most people think a boundary is just like they react. If I was just slamming my hand into the camera here, you’d be like, “John, that’s freaking annoying. Stop.” And that’s one level of boundary setting. And that that counts. But it-

Craig (00:16:23):
You made a good point about the person who is setting the boundaries. So if I’m setting boundaries, I can’t simply attack you. There’s a point that you made in the book about, I can’t just attack you and say, “No. Back off, get away. This is my space. This is my boundary.” But that I have to actually sort of my own words, not yours. I have to have earned the right to have set the boundary by putting up warning signs, danger, minefield, cross this line I punch you in the face. You can’t just act when they cross the line. So that’s why I was 10 minutes ago.

John (00:16:53):
The next step would be like, “John, it’s really distracting for me when you’re smashing your hand into the camera. And it makes me feel like this isn’t going to be a professional podcast. Could you please stop?” Well, now it’s like, you’ve done the work yourself. That’s how you earn it by being self-aware saying these are the feelings that are coming up in me, which nobody can argue with. It’s impossible to say, “No, that’s…” I could not say-

Craig (00:17:18):
“Yeah, Craig, you’re wrong…”

John (00:17:21):
“It shouldn’t make you feel that way. It shouldn’t make you feel irritated.” You can’t do that. And so then that’s medium level I call it heroic boundary settings. I name it after video games like Halo series. So you’ve got the heroic. And then legendary boundary setting would be to state what sort of consequence that would come like, “John, if you don’t stop smacking the camera, then we’re going to have to stop the show and I’m going to stop and we’re not going to do this anymore.” And if you can get all of those components in, “Here’s what it makes me feel. Here’s the action I would prefer instead. And here’s the consequences if that doesn’t happen.” That’s a healthy boundary. That’s what Wally did. And instead of waiting until we’re 30, 40, 50, which is what most people do to learn, here’s how to set a healthy boundary. Why don’t we just show 10 to 16 year olds here’s how it’s done. So they don’t have to struggle like we did.

Craig (00:18:11):
Yeah. Amen. Once more, louder for those in the back. I love that. I’m not like, “Oh, that was boring. I’m done.” It was more of like, “I got 90 things I want to talk about.”

Mountain climbing [18:23]

Chapter’s show notes…

Craig (00:18:23):
(chapter, highlight) And I promised myself, I’m not going to geek out about mountain climbing, but I want to go a little bit toward mountain climbing. What I want to say is what the heck is it about outdoor mountain climbing that is so transformative? And I have an idea and I think it’s that the… I fall a 5’8. Okay. That’s the kind of climber I am. I’m not a big wall climber. But for me it so necessarily mindful and so focusing, and that I think it’s a physiological need of our brains to get into the flow state. Everybody’s talking about flow state.

Craig (00:19:03):
If you haven’t heard about flow state, oh my God, what rock are you under? And I think that’s a physical need and I think rock climbing, and I think you can do it indoors, but I think there’s something about outdoors like, is that a centipede? Is that a snake? Am I going to get… There’s something about it that it makes you just go right into that flow state into that mindful practice. So my actual question is what do you think it is if anything, about mountain climbing that is so magical that takes you away, takes you right to the nut of figuring out who you are?

John (00:19:34):
There are maybe, well, we love the number three. So let me give you three of my favorite elements of climbing.

Craig (00:19:40):

John (00:19:40):
And the first one you are absolutely right. Flow state. You have to be there present, your body is screaming at you. Your primal fear factor is screaming, saying this is life and death, pay it freaking tension right now. You have to be here and now, which is an element of flow that’s being present. So it forces you into being present. The next thing that I really love about climbing is that it is my church. I’ve never jived with going into religious institution buildings, but I’d still subscribed to many of the beliefs in those buildings. But I find that my church structure is the mountains. Those are my sanctuaries or my temples to go out into the wilderness and see creation.

John (00:20:30):
That’s a spiritual experience to be standing above the cloud, looking down at the curvature of the earth and it’s a phenomenal place to be. So there’s two. And then the third one that I really love is being in a group of people that together are digging deep. We’re all on this thing of, “Am I enough? Do I have what it takes? Can these other people help me get through this?” We’re all on the same goal, purpose mission. And we all have to bring out a better, bigger self in order to succeed. And that’s a really cool place to be. (/highlight)

Craig (00:21:07):
Sometimes I just, “Shut up.” Yeah. Thank you very much for sharing that. I think that’s very insightful. I’m also on my own personal journey of learning. So I’m like, “Ooh, I can’t wait to listen to this again.” And I also, I tend to do random. That’s just Craig style, but was there anything that was on your mind? Oh, by the way, anybody out there listening, John is awesome. It took us weeks to get this scheduled and then I get called onto a plane. And then we reschedule I’m like, thanks for taking the time and sticking with my craziness to get it scheduled and be here.

John (00:21:39):
Thanks for having me on, it’s really a joy.

Craig (00:21:41):
Where was I going with that train of thought? Oh, was there anything on your mind on your way here like weeks, days, hours, moments in advance? Is there anything in your mind you’re like, “Oh, I hope I really get to talk about…” obviously other than the book, but is there anything that you were thinking that you wanted to get to?

John (00:21:57):
I want to create that same experience with you in the best way we can, that same mountaineering experience of like, let’s give something of real value to people listening. Let’s talk about mountaineering. If you want to talk Everest more than happy to go there, but more than anything I show up in that flow state as best I can present here with you. And that’s my intent in coming to this, so.

Craig (00:22:19):
You have succeeded. There is, I almost wrote it down. I don’t remember that. There’s a quote, somebody, I think it was a radio DJ it’s on your website. It says something like… Oh, I should look it up. It’s somebody famous. It’s two really famous motivational speakers.

John (00:22:34):
It’s if Tony Robbins-

Craig (00:22:34):
And what’s the other guy’s name?

John (00:22:34):
… And Bear Grylls had a baby.

Craig (00:22:34):
Bear Grylls. Yeah. If Bear Grylls and Tony Robinson had a baby. That’s, John but-

John (00:22:41):
I love that one.

Craig (00:22:41):
… I couldn’t remember Grylls’s name. I’m like, “What’s the other person’s name?” Yes. And I kind of suspected that that was legit before we started talking about. Yeah, totally legit.

Creating and sharing energy [22:49]

Chapter’s show notes…

Craig (00:22:49):
(chapter) How do you manage to keep your energy level up? To show up if people haven’t, maybe who has never experienced having a really intense conversation with someone, especially while being recorded with lights. This takes a lot of energy to do and I’m both and I’m commiserating and saying, you know this too. But how do you find the energy to do that?

John (00:23:12):
I think about the individual instead of myself. When I give my keynote speeches before COVID started I was speaking to, started with a few dozen students, and then it grew to… The last speech I gave before shutdowns was 3000 corporate folks. And if I step on a stage or if I get on a podcast or have any conversation, and I think, “What does Craig think about me? How am I going to do here? Are the people listening, liking what I’m saying?” That’s a selfish approach and that’s draining because then I’m in my head. I’m not present. I’m not here. Instead, if I think, how can I connect best with Craig? What are the people listening, going to get the most value out of? I wanted to go into that boundaries topic, because I truly believe that’s one of the most important subjects that any human being can learn.

John (00:24:09):
And how do I give the stories that are going to create the best experience for listeners? Instead of focusing on here’s what I want to get out of this, or here’s my little needy, monkey brain saying John needs to have community and culture, which is really what that is, right? Where does John fit into the community? And we all have that voice. If I step out of that and say, how do I help build the community, regardless of if I’m in it or not? Ironically, that actually puts you into the community. So it’s that same thought to create energy of by not worrying whether or not what I’m saying is giving me validation. It actually brings me into the energy to give value.

Craig (00:24:55):
Yes. I’m nodding vigorously. I don’t know which… The video flips between speakers, but I’m nodding vigorously and you can see me. Yeah. And I’m like, yeah.

John (00:25:07):
You can do this at the dinner table. You’re sitting at the dinner table and you notice that, “Oh everybody’s quiet right now. It’s just another standard normal dinner. I’m kind of bored right now.” Well, that little thought, “I’m little, a little bored right now. Or this is a ho-hum.” That’s about you. How do you bring out in your family members the feelings, the thoughts that are going through their minds, how do you bring out their stories of what really made them tick today? Because in that moment, when everybody’s quiet, they’re all thinking that same exact thing of, “I’m not really getting…” They’re all there. So be the one that’s courageous enough to step out of that, open up that conversation and lead your family or the people that you’re eating that meal with in finding out who they really are, take the attention off yourself and you’ll find energy by doing so.

Speeches and discourses [25:58]

Chapter’s show notes…

Craig (00:25:59):
(chapter) I don’t do keynotes or speaking in front of large groups. This is how the show works. Craig has ideas. I connect two together and I ask a question. I’m going to say, what role does asking questions play when you’re giving presentations to large groups?

John (00:26:20):
That’s my biggest frustration with the speech is that most speeches are a discourse. If you go back to when Plato and Socrates would give speeches, there was instant questioning during the discourse. And the guy had to know his speech so well that he could then get back on track or absorb the question back into his speech. Now, we don’t have that as a part of speeches. So I having studied rhetoric in university. That’s where I learned that this was how speeches used to be. Now I will try and do the same thing as much as I can. And I’m asking for the audience to call back. I’m like, “If that makes sense to you, everybody say hoo, rah.” And then you have 1000 people that are like, “Hoo, rah.” And they they get into it.

John (00:27:08):
And then suddenly there’s kind of this, “Oh, I don’t want to miss the next time he calls something out.” And I’m like, “If that makes sense to you or if you’re on board with this, tap the person’s chair in front of you with your foot.” And they’re like, “Oh, okay.” They’re like, “I don’t even know I had a foot right now.” Because they’re in their brain. And then put them in their body. And then they tap the little, the leg of the chair in front of them. And then everybody’s getting jolted. So I’m bringing the audience physically involved and having them shout back, call back. I’m bringing audience members up on stage. Sometimes I’ll even ask questions of the audience beforehand so I can bring those up on stage and deliver personalized information. So when I deliver a keynote, it’s very much a customized conversation as much as can be versus a, I am now standing, delivering the information I’ve gained in my life. Yeah.

Craig (00:28:01):
Standing behind the podium. I love that you used the word conversation. I’m all up in that. I stopped calling what I’m doing interviews just because I’m like, "I don’t like that word, it’s sounds like it’s too one way. And I really enjoy just talking to people. I just, and this all started for me when I discovered much to my pleasant surprise that I was just having cool conversations with people. And then eventually it was like people might want to hear those conversations. Okay. And totally got out of control, but-

Climbing stories [28:29]

Chapter’s show notes…

John (00:28:30):
(chapter) Let’s go there then. You say you’re a 5.8 climber, what drew you to climbing? And then let’s talk parallels between what drew me to going to Everest? What are the differences there?

Craig (00:28:41):
For me it was just stupid. Curiosity is what drew me there. The bootstrap story is my friend, Mike, the guy I was talking about before we pressed record. Open up Wikipedia, if you’re not a climber. Mike leads 5’10, falls off 5’11 kind of thing. So he’s pretty good. And I call him the rope gun. So he just goes first, I clean I’m second. So I didn’t know climbing from a hole in the ground. I mean, I’ve been to a rock-climbing gym once or twice. And I found him on Facebook maybe six years ago. And I was like, “Hey, I haven’t seen you in years. What are you up to?” And he had a little transit van and he was in Boulder and doing the dirt bag thing. And he’s on Facebook one day and he’s like, “Oh, hey, what’s up?”

Craig (00:29:21):
And I’m like, “What are you doing?” He’s like, “I’m dirt bagging in Colorado.” Wikipedia [inaudible 00:29:25]. Oh, I’m like, “I didn’t know to rock climb.” Turns out he went to a college in upstate New York and he hung out in-

John (00:29:32):
At The Gunks.

Craig (00:29:32):
Well yeah, but North of The Gunks is the Dacks at the Adirondacks is where he cut his teeth in the Adirondacks. Anyway, we had known each other from martial arts and we hadn’t seen each other in five years. And he goes, “You should come out and climb some time.” And me, I went, “When?” I meant I literally typed when. He’s like, so all this he’s been saying that to all of his friends for a year and nobody does it. And he’s like, “Well, I got a job for two weeks I’m helping somebody refinish furniture. And how about two weeks from now?” Or whatever it was, three weeks from now. And I’m like, “Okay.” And that was the end of our chat. “Well, let’s chat tomorrow.”

Craig (00:30:04):
So on your website, you have a section about actually going to the mountains that’s like, you can do it virtually, you can listen along, you can see gear lists. You had a photo of a gear, exploded gear list. And I was like, I got shivers because I did that with Mike. We did exploded gear list. I’m bringing this and bringing that baselayer, the whole thing. Because I didn’t know shit. I went and bought a pair of rock-climbing shoes. I bought a harness. I bought an ATC. And I went to the climbing gym literally every other day for three weeks or whatever it was.

Craig (00:30:30):
And people at the rock-climbing gym on the third day were like, “You’re not kidding around.” I’m like, “No, I don’t want to die.” I don’t know this guy very well. I basically had Gumby gear. Everything’s shiny. I got on an airplane with one backpack and it was not an expedition by any stretch. But basically got on an airplane with just my backpack that I checked and the shoes on my feet and my rock-climbing shoes and met up with Mike at a parking lot. And then we just spent about three weeks, just, I mean, roadside cragging to start learn how to jug up a rope and learn how to tie some knots and all this stuff, just like get in the pool.

John (00:31:02):

Craig (00:31:03):
So I just went at it with, “Oh, that looks interesting.” Which is how I do everything. And that, it just, I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t understand the level of engagement or shits gets real. Halfway up so now you’re like, “Oh, fuck.” Because rock climbing only goes one direction. It doesn’t go the other way. If the guy who has you on belay has the thing rigged up, it’s strapped to the belay point, there’s no doubt. And I’ve fallen 50 feet off the ground. I’ve fallen off crap and got swung off the route and I’m facing a blank cliff. And I’m there for half an hour while I figure out how to get going again. And I’ve had other climbers wrap down and go, “Hey, are you Craig?” I’m like, “Yeah, that’s me.”

Craig (00:31:45):
Okay. “Mike [inaudible 00:31:46] you’re okay.” [inaudible 00:31:47] maybe I’m unconscious. So for me, I had no clue what I was getting into. I got into it with a guy that I trusted and he’s really good at setting projection and stuff. And for me, I was just like, I don’t want to say it scratched a niche, but the thing we were talking before about the flow state and about learning about yourself, I didn’t know that’s what I was going to get. I didn’t realize that was what I really needed at that point in my life. And, but boy, did it work out well. And we’ve done a bunch of climbing. It’s all multi-pitch we wish we could climb in real places. We go to the Red in Kentucky. I hadn’t been to Red Rocks in-

John (00:32:19):
The River Gorge.

Craig (00:32:20):
I’ve been to Henderson by the way. I have family in Henderson. So I was just like, “Whoa this is just so…” Because I was close spatially." But so that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. [crosstalk 00:32:30].

John (00:32:30):
(highlight) So those little moments of, “Oh, that’s interesting.” I think are so important to learn to listen to. You made the absolute right choice of like, “Oh, that’s interesting. And then I’m going to go try it.” Most people are like, “Oh, that’s interesting, but I could never, or I’m not a climber or my upper body strength isn’t enough. Or if it’s like playing guitar, but I don’t have a sense of rhythm or if it’s dancing, oh, but I don’t know how to keep rhythm.” Or if it’s whatever, there’s always this, “But I’m a beginner or I would look foolish.” Kind of voice. And there’s such beauty. I call it loving the idiot phase. When you know you’re going to be an idiot at something and you’re going to look like a fool. But that’s every moment in life, somebody’s phenomenally better than you.

John (00:33:26):
Sure. I climbed Everest, but then while I’m going, there’s Lakpa Rita Sherpa who’s climbed it 22 times right there next to him. I’m like, “Well, I’m a total beginner newbie novice in relation to him.” And even Olympic gold medalists of sport that happens right after them. They’re a total newbie novice, right? So all of us are beginners. And if you can learn to love that joy, find joy in the moments of proverbially stepping on the toes of the dancer, that you’ve just started this thing with or knowing you’re going to be hanging on the side of a cliff for 30 minutes. And other people wrapping down monkeys, baboons flying down with little bananas and, “Hi, are you Craig?” If you can learn to laugh at those moments and say, “This is freaking awesome, I’m loving that I have no clue what I’m doing.” And you listen to those moments.

John (00:34:18):
That’s interesting. That’s where the joy of life starts coming from. Because you start to expand who you are as a human being and you learn what you’re actually made of versus what your brain says it thinks you’re made of. Because your brain is not you, you are not the thoughts going on in your mind. That is not who you are. You’re the person who can see those thoughts. You can watch those sites. You’re the watcher, the seer, the witness, there’s all these different names for this person. But if you can say, “Oh, there that is, there’s that little inner critic that John has, that Craig has.”

Craig (00:34:53):
The self-talk.

John (00:34:53):
The self-talk. And say, “I’m going for this thing because it just sounds really interesting or freaking awesome.” You’ll grow.

Craig (00:35:01):
Yes. Mic drop. (/highlight) Except we’re not done. Yeah. Do you want to talk about [inaudible 00:35:07]? Mike, I love the guy to death. He’s awesome. Mike pitched out. I think we did it in seven pitches, the first slab in Boulder. So I was scared out of my wits and we did it. It’s in a state park. The park closes at dusk. We started at dusk. We climbed at night. It was the first rock I’d ever touched outdoors. It was day one was, let’s go up the first slab in Boulder. And we pitched it out with trad gear. Mike was like, “It is sketchy as fuck because there’s not a place to set trad gear in that rock.” Just people who know what I’m [crosstalk 00:35:37]. You pitched out the first slab. I mean, there were parts where I was wigged out on the fourth pitch at 11:00 PM.

Craig (00:35:43):
And Mike’s just like, I got to love him for being here because Mike is sitting at the blade point under the stars, looking at the sky. And then that was that we did do something a little sketchy, like the education on how to repel occurred at the top of the slab at two in the morning as an 80 foot wrap off the back-

John (00:36:01):
It’s dark and you’ve got head lights.

Craig (00:36:02):
It’s baby. Right? It’s like headlamps. Random question. Do you prefer climbing in the dark? I prefer like climbing in the dark is much more it feels more comfortable because of the, oh my God. Terror zone is only as far as your headlamp reaches. I can reach six feet and that’s it. And there’s nothing else. And you look over the edge with your headlamp and like, “I don’t see anything.” You’re just like, “Yeah, there’s nothing down there. There’s no danger.”

John (00:36:26):
I got chills when you said that because some of the most magical moments of my life have been waking up at one o’clock in the morning, crawling out of a sleeping bag into 10-degree Fahrenheit weather well below zero and pulling those icy boots on my feet, hating every second of gearing up. But then when I step outside, there’s the entirety of the milky way galaxy extending above me. And I start taking those steps through the crunchy snow. I’ve tied my knot to my rope team. And we start moving through this terrain that all you see is the silhouettes of the black mountains against the backdrop of the inky purple milky way galaxy. And you’re like, “I’m walking in space right now. And I’m with these people who I love and care about and I am throwing my life on the line for them and they’re doing the same for me.”

John (00:37:16):
(quote) I love those moments at night when you just see the distance of your headlamp in front of you, and it’s just, it’s the story of life. You can only see as far as that headlamp goes. And once you get to where that headlamp goes, you see where the headlamp goes next and that’s it. And who knows what’s going to be around the next corner? And those are such spectacular moments that I just live for. (/quote)

Everest and perspective [37:38]

Chapter’s show notes…

Craig (00:37:38):
(chapter) Perspective. I hear you talking about the idea of perspective. I have a habit of taking photography from airplane windows, but none of the ground. I love to catch it aerial phenomenon. Every once in a while I get on a flight that’s flying West during sunrise. So you get the whole, and that hint of the curvature of the earth that you can get from an airplane. Or if people listening, if you ever get a chance to go somewhere where, what they call dark sky where there’s no light pollution around, that’s difficult. But if you can make the journey, it’s not quite the same. I’m being [inaudible 00:38:17] the same as being on Everest. However, it is close when you see that you get an idea of what our ancestors would have lived with every day.

Craig (00:38:28):
And in some of the, I don’t know, history or some of the things that I’ve read about cultures, nobody sees the New York City skyline after you’ve been there a million days. It’s just like, “Yeah, whatever. Nobody looks.” But everyone always looks at the night sky. You do not ever get used to that level of grandeur and astronauts say similar things about once you’ve been to space and you look down at the marble, you are a different person. You can’t go back. And I think that’s a big part of, that’s probably the thing about big mountaineering [inaudible 00:39:08]. I’m like, “I don’t want to climb ice. No, thank you.” But that’s the thing about mountaineering. I think it is called to me the experience of being in that environment. Not so much the climbing part of it, which is why I’m not doing it, but yeah. Perspective, just because I love to see how maneuverable we are on our skateboards. Where is that lesson of perspective in the book?

John (00:39:31):
I do talk about climbing Everest towards the end of the weapons mastery. So at the end of the first section. And my story on climbing Everest was my first bottle of oxygen was leaking and fewer than 100 people have ever successfully climbed Everest without oxygen because it’s lethal, human bodies-

Craig (00:39:53):
[crosstalk 00:39:53] oxygen.

John (00:39:53):
I’s kind of important to be able to breathe. I don’t know if you know this, but. So I’m climbing and my oxygen leaks, I didn’t know it was leaking, but it was so cold that the little rubber washer that created an effective seal between the regulator and the oxygen bottle had cracked. And it was leaking oxygen through that, burn through one bottle. My Sherpa says, “Hey, stay put, I’m going to go up higher.” Get another bottle, he’s gone for about 15 minutes. I’m alone in the middle of the Himalayan sky, flick the headlamp off and on my jacket, which is bright red, I’m looking at it and it’s got these little red patches, these really big, bright red features on it. And they start changing colors. It’s changing from red to gray and I’m like, “That’s not normal. That shouldn’t be. I know that my jacket, it doesn’t change color. It’s not a 1980s hyper colored jacket. It’s not the thing.”

John (00:40:48):
And trying to pull my feet out of the ground and I can’t, I just don’t have the energy. I can feel a line of cold, impossible cold starting to go up my arms and legs towards my core. None of this is good stuff. My vision was going out. I was losing the ability to process colors. Finally, I see Nuru come back down. Nuru is the name of my guide. The Sherpa I was with, awesome guy. He comes back down and he’s all enthusiastic trying to breathe some life into me with his spirit. And he’s just like, “John, sir, John, sir, I have air. I have air.” Just like, “Here it is.” And we screw it in. I take a breath. And when I do, that jacket turns right back to red and I feel that line go in the reverse direction, down my limbs and I’m able to walk again. Let’s keep climbing. Cool.

John (00:41:40):
So now we’re up to this feature called the balcony. So we’d been on the mountain for six weeks already. And it’s harrowing in that by now, seven people had passed away. During that whole season nine people had passed away. I came across the eighth gentlemen a few hours after that first bottle of oxygen ran out and he was on his last breaths. And everybody had left him for dead and he had kind of this gut gasp a moment back to life when I came across him and I did everything I could to try and save him or revive him, but none of it worked.

John (00:42:15):
And so then I had this crosshair moment of am I going to climb up to get to the top or try and get this person down? But he was already gone. And I knew. And if you study anything about Everest, even though this sounds like a really cold decision, you cannot physically carry that much weight. It takes dozens and dozens of people to be able to move 180-ish pounds.

Craig (00:42:42):
And incapacitated climber.

John (00:42:45):
It was a lost cause. And had I tried to do that, I would have put those 11 other climbers lives at risk. Had I tried to say, “Come on guys, let’s get this guy down.” It would have needlessly endangered other people’s lives. And so the compassionate decision for life and for humanity was to keep climbing, to keep doing my thing. So I climb up to the summit, but it changed everything about what the climb meant for me. I wanted it to be a thing where it was like, “Yeah, I’m awesome. Look at how great I’ve done climbing Mount Everest. And I’m a hero now.” Instead it became a journey of several months afterwards of even years afterwards of dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. And that’s what taught me vulnerability, finding the right people to share what’s really going on with you and to process through traumas. That’s where the idea of, what does all this really mean come from?

John (00:43:45):
And through that processing back to the very first question you asked me, that’s what mountaineering has changed or caused in me or that’s who I am and what I feel like I can now say through all that processing of this. Now I can say, here’s why I’m confident in what I’ve put in this book through that entire journey to healing, because it’s not just post-traumatic stress, it’s post-traumatic growth. If you really go through the process of seeing what has happened, clearly eliminating the mental blocks that were created that caused post-traumatic stress in the first place. If somebody out there has gone through something traumatic, you can heal from it and just like tearing down your muscles in your thigh or your biceps, you’re working out. By healing from that super traumatic thing that went on for you emotionally, you can come out bigger and stronger than you ever were beforehand, but you have to be able to have the courage to go through the work.

Craig (00:44:46):
I think that’s a deep insight that well, life breaks everyone and some people are stronger at the broken places when they heal is, Hemingway, maybe. But I think that it takes a lot of strength just to share that story, I would imagine. So I thank you for sharing that and it brings a perspective to the book. I think it brings a perspective for the book that’s important in some ways like I said, I didn’t study it. I can’t write a dissertation on it. But when I read through it, I just had this vision of trying to imagine 12-year-old Craig reading the book and I’d be like, “Whoa, that’s awesome.” I could just see myself responding to it, to the epicness of all of the stuff in the book.

Craig (00:45:31):
But then from my current perspective, I was like, “Yeah, I mean, that’s pretty [inaudible 00:45:34] but this is really good stuff in here.” So I really applaud your ability to mix that too. It’s like a peanut butter sandwich like, “Yeah, there’s whole grains on here, but there’s jelly.” So it works, a spoonful of sugar, the medicine goes down and kind of thing. So I rarely think it’s approachable on that. I didn’t mean to turn it into a phone over your book session. But I think my personal opinion, people tend to judge someone who’s done something spectacular because it’s spectacular what you’ve accomplished the Seven Summits and then turn it into a book. And I’m like, “No, this isn’t just a dude who wrote a cool book.” This is actually a really good book with a capital G and accomplished as good in the world.

John (00:46:14):
Thank you.

Craig (00:46:15):
I’m kind of excited to like, “Ooh, I want to keep my eye on this. I want to see how this works out.” Now I’m like, I need to buy a couple of copies and give them to something to people I can think of.

John (00:46:23):
Please do.

Craig (00:46:24):
[inaudible 00:46:24] too. So I’ll get on that.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder [46:26]

Chapter’s show notes…

Craig (00:46:32):
(chapter) I’m stumbling because I think saying PTSD diminishes the depth, post-traumatic stress disorder is a major thing. And I think when you give it a handy acronym it’s sad, seasonal affective disorder. I’m like, seasonal affective disorder is a serious thing. People [inaudible 00:46:51] committing suicide in the holidays. When we call it sad, it gets diminished and I’m not equating PTSD and sad.

Craig (00:46:57):
But when one just says PTSD, it makes it sound like [inaudible 00:47:00] little box. So I think you unpacking the experience that was the trauma that led to you having that disorder. I think that makes it so much more clear how important it is for people to realize a PTSD is not a little simple acronym. That is a major issue that is, I think, as a society we’ve gotten past believing, it’s just war fighters who suffer from PTSD. It’s not just people who are first responders and firefighters and stuff, that it is a generic affliction that any human being can suffer when faced with trauma. So I was really-

John (00:47:37):
I appreciate so much that you bring that up. I really truly do because it’s become this trite term that a lot of people use and it steals from those who actually are dealing with it. When you’re like, “I stubbed my toe on the corner of the bed now I have a little PTSD when I’m walking around the bed.” That really actually devalues what it actually is. And so PTSD is being locked into your fight or flight state. This is a short-term adrenaline burst that is meant to save you from when a saber-toothed tiger attacks. And so you’re either going to fight that tiger back, which gives you this incredible surge of energy. You’re going to run like hell as fast as you can. There’s also faint, pass out-

Craig (00:48:23):
Yeah. The play dead.

John (00:48:23):
… Or freeze is another one, right? Play dead. And so these are the defense mechanisms that we have that are only meant for very short-term bursts. But climbing Everest, I see this guy, he’s dead. I’ve got an 8,000 foot drop on one side, 10,000 foot drop on another. I’m in my head over this, what just happened with this guy over and over, my own oxygen is leaking so I’m thinking-

Craig (00:48:46):
Shortly after a serious crisis.

John (00:48:48):
I’m about to die. And the second bottle is also leaking. I left that important little tidbit out of the story that I get to the top and that state of fight or flight, which I was in for those 36 hours of summit day, that never stopped. And so that’s what happens when someone has true post-traumatic stress disorder. Now there’s post-traumatic stress, which is just like, “Hey, I saw this car accident, or I was in a accident.” Or it could be caused by something as what may look small like a home break-in or a rape, or even seeing something on the news.

Craig (00:49:29):
But that can shock your foundation.

John (00:49:31):
This whole spectrum of horrible like a rape, or seeing something on the news like I saw something, any of that can cause it depending on the human being. So you’re absolutely right that anybody can experience post-traumatic stress disorder in a real way. But it’s also not to be taken lightly when we have this cute little acronym for it, PTSD because that person, if they’re depressed, moody, angry, it’s not them who’s wanting to do that. They don’t want to be there. They’re in a state of their adrenal glands are so squeezed and taxed and exhausted that they don’t know how to get out of that. I have to fight something or run from its place.

Craig (00:50:21):
I try, I don’t know if I succeed, but I try to find things with each person that I’m talking with to try and I don’t want to say throw people a bone, but to give them, “Yeah, here’s something you can go do.” And I’m not going to ask you for what to do with PTSD, what you should do if you feel that you’ve been traumatized, is you need to find professionals, serious resources, which [inaudible 00:50:40] by the way, there’s a lot of cool resources in the book.

John (00:50:42):
There are.

Craig (00:50:43):
It’s not a comic book, you know what I mean?

John (00:50:46):
There are comics in it to make it engaging.

Craig (00:50:47):
Yes. But it is-

John (00:50:49):
But it is not a comic book and that it has nutrition. It has depth to it.

Craig (00:50:52):
Yes. Exactly. Well spoken.

Craig (00:50:55):
(highlight)But I was going to say one of the things that jumped out at me was I think it was a block about the 5-2-7 breathing. I’m a big fan of breathing, certain kinds of breathing patterns and meditations. And it jumped out at me because I know enough about the activation of the sympathetic nervous system. That doing those kinds of breathing is an immediate set of grab handles that you can get a hold of to affect your own nervous system reaction like that. So just for fun, can you unpack the 5-2-7 breathing exercises?

John (00:51:31):
Yeah. So I interviewed a woman named Mithu Storoni who has a PhD in neuro everything. She’s gotten multiple PhDs in all the neuros. And she wrote a book called Stress-Proof and a lovely, lovely human being, just the sweetest, gentlest demeanor, but she just brings the punch in the power. I’m like, that’s who I want to have as a resource for self-awareness. I call her up and she’s gracious enough to chat. And she tells me about this thing that Navy SEALs do when they go under water and they are facing the same sense of fight or flight. And I don’t know if you know this, but Navy SEALs can warm up their bodies by controlling their breath. If they’re sitting in icy water, kind of like Wim Hof Method, they can warm themselves. And that’s really the power of the breath.

John (00:52:19):
So 5-2-7 breathing learned from Mithu Storoni because she tells me about what the Navy SEALs do in order to calm themselves when they go underwater. So here’s what it is. It’s breath in for five counts, hold your breath for two counts and then exhale for seven counts. It’s really important that at the bottom of your breath, after your longest exhale, that you don’t hold your breath there because that activates energy, that says I have to take a gasp. I have to start the fight or flight because I need to breathe.

John (00:52:55):
So it’s just simply in one, two, three, four, five. Hold one, two, exhale, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, and then inhale five. And if you do that three to five times, especially, if you take note of, here’s what I felt like beforehand. Whoa, here’s what I feel like afterwards. There’s actually a massive calming, centering difference for a simple exercise and technique like that. It is so powerful.

Craig (00:53:32):
Powerful. Thank you. I love that because I’ve talked about in the past, square breathing, which some people learn in martial arts context and you basically go around in a count that’s symmetrical. So it’s in five, pause, five out, five, pause five, and that’s challenging. And it leads to a completely different result. And so they’re different tools. So I think it’s great to see. I don’t want to say it’s a simple tool because it’s really a powerful tool, but it’s great to see such a simple tool included in the book. And I blasted through that section. I’m like, oh yeah, five two, but [inaudible 00:54:07]. But I’m like, that’s a really interesting thing to include.

Craig (00:54:10):
So I really like that as a tool for people it’s in my opinion, better than things like when you get mad, count to 10, which to me is like, and guess what you’ll be doing while you’re counting to 10?

John (00:54:20):
Holding your breath.

Craig (00:54:23):
Right. And you’re making it worse.

John (00:54:24):
One, two three. Gosh. Didn’t work.

Craig (00:54:27):
Yeah. It’s just not, you spend 10 seconds thinking about how you were going to do the thing you shouldn’t do. So I’m a big fan of breathing exercise. I think that’s a good one that people can try.

John (00:54:35):
So this thread started from what tools can somebody use if they think they’ve been traumatized. And that was a critical part of the therapy process of learning this square breathing, which is a simplified version of that 5-2-7 breathing square. And she would have me hold my finger, lift it up for four breaths, draw an actual square one, two, three, four. I was like, “Why do I have to use my hand?” She’s like, “Just do it.”

Craig (00:55:01):
“Shut up and do it.”

John (00:55:02):
“Shut up and do it.” Basically. Yeah. But in a very kind way, it’s like, “Well, that puts you in your body and it gives you something to focus on.” Okay, great. So one, two, three, four, over one, two, three, four down one, two, three, four. And the bottom one again is what creates that sort of sense of stimulus, which she, in that case wanted. Because she wanted to kind of find what my triggers were in a controlled setting. So that was very wise of her to say, “We’re going to hold on that down breath to see how John reacts to these impulses of fight or flight.” (/highlight)

Craig (00:55:37):
Outstanding. Some days I’m like, “I don’t know why I’m doing this podcasting thing. It’s a lot of work. Is a lot of…” And then other days I’m like, when I’m recording a conversation, I’m like, “Yep. I remember why I do this. Never stopping.”

John (00:55:50):

Something people get wrong [55:51]

Chapter’s show notes…

Craig (00:55:52):
(chapter) And then I always want to just press stop because what could I possibly say that’s better than what we just said? But I like the metaphor of going to the well, it’d be to make it a bucket of clear spring water. I’m just like, “Oh, this is probably another one of them. Let’s to go back to the well.” You’ve obviously you’ve done a lot every year. So you’re really good at this stuff. So how about, what’s something that people get wrong about you? So if I asked your friends maybe, or people who know you not too well. What’s something they would say about you, but that you actually feel is wrong?

John (00:56:23):
I would probably say that I’m more like them than they think. There’s this thought that, “Oh, he climbed Everest. He gives keynote speeches. He writes books.” And there’s this [inaudible 00:56:38] John. And you got all your shit together, don’t you?" No, no. I still wake up some mornings and say, “I don’t really want to get out of bed.” I still get down. Coronavirus sent me for a hell of a loop. I got in down in the dumps. There was a couple of weeks that I was drinking too much during it when it started and go through the same stuff that a lot of people do. And I’ve figured out a little bit about how to deal with it and figure out what works for my own life.

John (00:57:07):
And I still want to learn from others. And that’s my main, that’s the thing that I actually credit with people are like, “How do you get all this stuff done? How do you go climb all these mountains? And how do you write these books?” Honestly, I try and learn from others as much as I can. And I put myself into a beginner mindset.

Craig (00:57:24):

John (00:57:24):
So I guess I’m just more like other people than people think. I just maybe have a different story that led me to the same place everybody else is.

Craig (00:57:36):
Thank you.

Rest and recommendations [57:39]

Chapter’s show notes…

Craig (00:57:39):
(chapter) I’m always thinking, I’m always imagining a bunch of people sitting behind me behind glass and they’re screaming and banging on the glass, but I can’t hear them. And I’m just like, I’m trying to think of what you want to know. Are there any other… So I’m torn between saying, here’s the twofer, you pick which one you want to answer. What the heck do you do when you’re stuck in a tent-

John (00:57:55):
Come on, twofer it up. We’ll see if I can answer both.

Craig (00:57:57):
Twofer it up. What the heck do you do when you’re stuck on a portaledge in the middle of a wall for two days, waiting out weather, what do you do to keep from going insane when you’re stuck in the tent like that? And also what are some books that you’ve read that you think people who are interested in our current conversation, they should go look at? Two completely different questions.

John (00:58:15):
For the first one, portaledge on the side of a wall is the same exact thing of what you do when you’re in quarantine, truly when you’re just stuck and you can’t move. And you’re just there because it’s a shit storm outside. What do you do? You accept that that is the time for rest. And then you put your mind at ease. You quit worrying about what needs to be done, because just as much a part of taking action of doing stuff is not doing stuff, relaxing, resting, and recovering. If you don’t have the energy from your recovery and your rest, then you will not be effective at action. They’re the same thing. It’s all the climbing.

John (00:58:54):
For the few books that I would recommend. One of the best books that I read this year was Essentialism. It’s all about removing what is extraneous from your life and what you think you might need, but you actually don’t. And when I saw the cover and when I heard the title, I was like, "Oh, there’s this guy who probably lives in some tiny home and out in the woods-

Craig (00:59:15):
Owns other things, right?

John (00:59:16):
… Owns 12 items and one of these kinds of stories. And I was like, that’s no, it’s incredibly powerful stuff for removing what’s extraneous from… It’s very approachable for everybody. And just like in climbing, there’s only a few ways that you can actually fail. In climbing Everest, it’s like falling, pulmonary edema, cerebral edema, dehydration, heart attack, crevasse fall. There’s eight total ways to die. There was six of them right there. And if you can just not do those eight ways to die-

Craig (00:59:48):
You will be there.

John (00:59:50):
There are infinite number of other paths to get up to the top. And I think it’s the same with everything in our life. If you can just figure out what’s holding you, what are your blocks? What’s going wrong. Then you’ll have infinite number of paths to actually get to where you’re desiring to go, but learning to remove those things or handle them and get them out of the way, that’s what Essentialism taught. Just beautiful book. The other one is Breath and it’s this bright yellow cover. And it’s all about breath work. It’s all about how do you get yourself into the body? It covers things like this 5-2-7 breathing principle that we already talked about, but in a much more expanded way how early humanoids and Neanderthals used to be way more in their bodies than us currently, because they were not in their thinking brains as much, which was actually a benefit to their physiology.

John (01:00:41):
And now we’re sort of devolving where our teeth aren’t aligned straight as a result of our crappy breathing. Neanderthals, uniformly had perfectly straight teeth. Yeah. And it’s like, as a result of us having this shallow top of our lungs breathing. So this book shows how to get full belly breaths circulate breathing to different parts of your body and how to control your breath for different states. There’s Wim Hof breathing. There’s Ujjayi breathing. There’s 5-2-7 square breathing. So all these different styles of breathing, which three, four years ago, I would’ve been like, “What the hell did that guy just say?”

John (01:01:21):
I got introduced to breathwork from mountaineering. It was just forcing myself to, or being forced I should say to take one step and then control my breaths until I could calm down to be ready to take another step. And that was my intro to it. And now it’s like, okay, I’m going to remove myself from the mountains, live here right now and learn that breathwork-

Craig (01:01:41):
Continue. Yeah.

John (01:01:42):
… Without needing the external training wheels of climbing.

Craig (01:01:50):
Well done. I don’t know. Sometimes I think when I speak it belittles things people have said. I try to give a little pause in my head.

Starting places for Mountaineering [1:01:58]

Chapter’s show notes…

Craig (01:01:58):
(chapter) I’ve asked you this, anything that you wanted to get to? I’m wondering if, I guess maybe let’s do the obvious one. So somebody decides that they want to climb all Seven Summits. Where do you start? There’s probably a book to start with that, but where do you go if you really wanted to consider doing it til I get a grasp on what you would have to do in order to do it, where do you begin?

John (01:02:21):
If it was a total beginner?

Craig (01:02:22):

John (01:02:23):
Okay. So I would gently encourage you to start with a USA mountain, like a 14,000-foot peak, maybe in Colorado or Mount Whitney or Mount Rainier if you’re feeling really ambitious. And the reason I say that is because lovingly, you don’t know what you’re saying. You don’t grasp how freaking massive these mountains are. Perspective. Rainier takes two nights for the standard way to climb it. You go up to camp, spend a day resting. You go up to the Summit and you get yourself back down. It’s two nights, three days. What about spending 16 days on a mountain like Denali or 10 days on Kilimanjaro or two months on Everest or flying to Antarctica and seeing the plane fly off. And the only rescue is yourself, because the closest civilization is freaking McMurdo Station, which isn’t even civilization really. And it’s 1000 miles away across crevasse glaciers in minus 40-degree weather. Cool.

John (01:03:36):
You don’t get what you’re saying until you start small. So start with a mountain That’s like, if it’s interesting to you like that thread from earlier, if it’s for something that’s calling to you. Start, but don’t start in a place that’s going to put yourself at risk or others at risk, or put you in a situation where you’re five days into a three week climb and you’re going, “Screw this. I only want to be gone.”

Craig (01:03:59):
Yeah. Terrific.

What drives this Podcast [1:04:02]

Chapter’s show notes…

Craig (01:04:01):
(chapter) I want to be mindful of your time. We’re coming up on an hour and a half. So I’ll give you one last, anything else that you want to bring up or ask about or talk about before we head for the door?

John (01:04:14):
Yeah. I want to ask about what drives you to make this podcast?

Craig (01:04:19):
Yeah, I’m going to say equal parts just like, “Oh my God. It’s so cool.” I don’t mean I objectively think it’s awesome when I’m making, but I just love having conversations with people and I occasionally go back and listen to the older episodes. One way for me to get out of a funk is to go listen to an older episode with somebody that I really consider a good personal friend that I’m just like, “Wow, I mean, I think I sound like a moron.” But that was a really cool conversation. And I’m really like, I forgot those things that person said. So for me, the personal experience and enjoyment that I get out of it just so far, there’s no end in sight. So I just do it because I freaking love having these conversations right now in the moment with you, that’s the part I love.

Craig (01:04:58):
And then along the way, I’ve sort of developed an eye or an ear for how much crap there is out there just in the world in general, but in podcasting in general. And I don’t mean audio quality. I just mean people who are just talking heads. And when I get to talk to someone and I hear them say something and I’m just like, wow, I think it’s really important that I just captured what John had to say and that I don’t want to freak you out, but now it’s immortal. It’s going to be around longer than you and I, and someone might listen to that and that might be somebody’s hearing things that this person that I had a chance to talk to said that might change someone’s life. So I’m just like, okay, now I’m starting to feel that there’s actually work that I’m doing here.

Craig (01:05:42):
And there’re other people doing it better than me. And I love the whole tech aspect of it. And that’s kind of cool and all, but I really love the interpersonal technology aspect of it. How do you ask questions and how do you talk to the people? And how do you figure out who that mind is on the other side of the world or the other side of the screen kind of thing? So that’s what drives me is that, that double pole of, “Oh my God, I just love doing it.” And the more I do it, the more I’m just like, “Whoa, that was yet another really cool conversation that I think is a good thing that that’s been captured.” So that’s the twofer for me.

John (01:06:15):
I think it’s immense value that you bring and that’s really a beautiful way of expressing it.

Craig (01:06:19):
Thank you.

John (01:06:19):
Thanks for sharing that. That’s my question.

Craig (01:06:21):
Cool. All right.

3 words [1:06:22]

Chapter’s show notes…

Craig (01:06:22):
(chapter, highlight) Well then, I will just say as I say many times, and of course the final question, three words to describe your practice.

John (01:06:31):
Presence, courage, and grit.

Craig (01:06:36):
Thank you very much John. It was a pleasure to finally get a chance to talk to you. And I suspect we may be talking again in the future. So thanks for taking the time and have a terrific day.

John (01:06:47):
Thanks so much for having me on Craig. (/highlight)