Fighting Fear

by | Jun 5, 2017 | Ruminations

Did I mention that I’m the biggest National Geographic fanboy alive?  If you look closely enough at the image on the left, you’ll see that not only did I begin saving my 37-yr uninterrupted string of Nat’l Geo magazines in 1980, but that I preserve them in leather binders provided by (of course) National Geographic.

Sure, there are probably a few collectors with more a more impressive array, but none who are more loyal to the brand. Nowadays, you can buy Nat Geo Magzn in grocery store racks, but that’s very recent.  For decades, you had to belong to the Nat Geo Society to get your monthly fix.  I read each one from cover to cover.  I realize my Nat Geo obsession is an anachronism, but its excellence inspires me.  I’m gonna stop now?…after 37 years?

So it is with great anticipation that I await the NG article with details about Alex Honnold’s climb.
Taking a peek at Nat Geo’s online edition, I was able to read about this 31-yr-old’s audacious feat of free-solo climbing Yosemite’s El Capitan face in less than 4 hours this weekend.  A fellow climber called it the “moon landing” of free-soloing (no ropes, no safety net, just hand chalk and guts).  It’s never been done.

Not to be a spoiler, but I will tell you a couple of salient points from the brief online article that I find of particular value to us as freelance voice-actors…as human beings.

First, Honnold didn’t just decide one day to tackle El Capitan.  He’s free-solo’d other impossible but less-daunting climbs already.  But the key is that he’s able to do all this utilizing two immutable rules of success:

  1. He practices relentlessly
  2. He’s conquered fear


Sound familiar?  What’s the saying about luck amounts to being prepared when opportunity presents itself…that there are no overnight sensations?

THAT’s the relentless practice part.

But the other thing…conquering fear.  

Here’s the deal.  Other climbers in Honnold’s echelon (there are only a few) may be marginally stronger or have better technique, but Honnold stands alone in being able to focus away his fear, and tackle something this infinitely challenging without letting a sheer 3,000 foot certain death drop phase him.

 That’s beyond just concentration.  That is a triumph of mind over matter equal to the best of humankind.  

You may call Honnold crazy…testing fate…being reckless.  To some that is undoubtedly true, but I find it a testament to towering achievement by conquering the devil on your shoulder telling you that you can’t or shouldn’t.  We settle for less.

 So what’s YOUR El Capitan?

What fear is keeping you from your greatest achievement?

What hesitation prevents you from living your VO dream?


I’m calling National Geographic HQ tomorrow to see if they need any new documentary narrators.




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