I have this theory about outdoor activities: I think the secret to success is being really good at lying. No really. I think the secret to successfully climbing a 14er or dropping into that double black diamond ski run that is maybe a little above your ability is being able to convince yourself that it’s not going to be that bad and you can do it. This requires lying to yourself at times, yes.
Half the battle in any hiking, skiing, biking, rock climbing or other type of outdoor adventure is convincing yourself that it’s going to be manageable. On long hikes I usually tell myself at least five times before I get to the destination that I’m “almost there.” False summits on mountains are sometimes a great gift. Sometimes it’s just better to think that a hike is shorter than it actually is.
I’m not advocating lying to yourself to make stupid and unsafe decisions in the wilderness. Lying to yourself about a fast approaching thunderhead, for example, is decidedly not a good idea. Lying to yourself about how hard a trail is really going to be, however, is an excellent idea! I It’s so easy to psych yourself out once you start overthinking it. As outdoor enthusiasts, sometimes the things we do for fun are a little sadistic. I mean the longer you think about dropping into that steep ski run, the harder it is. The sooner you can convince yourself that it’s not going to be that bad and you’ll be fine the sooner you are flying down a mountain with blind confidence.
If I know ahead of time how hard something is going to be, I might not think that I am capable of it. But here’s the kicker – we so often underestimate ourselves. Lying to ourselves gives us the confidence that we need to achieve greatness. If I never lied to myself I would never move beyond the blue runs on the mountain, test my limits with a marathon or decide that trying CrossFit sounded like a good idea. I honestly (ha!) can’t imagine what my life would be like if I didn’t lie to myself constantly about what was capable of doing. It would be boring for sure.