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The Dawn Wall - what it teaches us about executing a vision

The Dawn Wall – what it teaches us about executing a vision
January 8, 2019 Kurt

The nitty gritty of owning a business is rarely learned in school.

Sure, you can be taught the basics, but textbooks won’t teach you how to execute a vision. Instead, a lot of business lessons are found in strangest of places. Take, for example, The Dawn Wall, a documentary about Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgensen’s attempt to climb a 3,000-foot granite monolith rock face on the northern side of Yosemite National Park’s El Capitan. Their journey encapsulates not only the strength of the human condition but also teaches us valuable lessons about executing business visions. As a passionate climber, our Creative Director Kurt Schubert has identified five key lessons The Dawn Wall can teach us about executing a vision.

For more information on the film and to purchase The Dawn Wall see here.

Don’t give up in the face of adversity

From the very beginning of his story, Tommy Caldwell was faced with adversity. One of the most poignant moments was when he and his partner at the time, Beth Rodden, and two others were attempting to climb the cliffs of Kyrgyzstan. One morning, as they camped on a rock face, the group was taken hostage. This life and death situation only came to an end when Tommy threw one of their terrorist captors off a cliff in order for their group to escape. After recovering from this ordeal, Tommy continued to climb. But it was during a simple house renovation accident which could have brought his climbing days to an end, which really tested his resilience. During the renovations, Tommy cut his index finger off with a circular saw. Doctors told him it was impossible for him to have a career as a rock climber because the index finger is the key finger that you need to hold yourself up and balance while climbing.

Not one to give up on a challenge, Tommy dedicated himself to learning how to climb, without his index finger.

The lesson: When it comes to executing a vision in business, you’ll face an inordinate number of adversities. But if you’re passionate enough these failures can lead to success– keep going!

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2. Don’t be limited by impossibilities


At every point in his journey, Tommy views impossibilities as possibilities. This is most evident as Tommy spends months mapping out the Dawn Wall trying to figure out a whether it’s even possible to climb, whether there’s enough cracks and holds. He considers everything- tiny cracks millimeters deep, even slight protrusions from the wall. He continually questions whether these can possibly be mapped together, whether they can lead from one part of the wall to another. He is so committed to developing a strategy which he knows can work, that others merely see it as an obsession over an impossible climb.

The lesson: In business, success lies in achieving something most thought was impossible. Often, achieving this impossible task shows there’s a market for it. And if there’s a market for it, a payoff will usually follow. Just remember – if everyone thought it was possible, they’d all be doing it. Using tenacity and a different strategy, as Tommy did throughout his journey, can prove the impossible, is possible.

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3. Share your vision with a team that supports your belief


For Tommy, this person was Kevin Jorgensen, a young boulderer. An unlikely candidate, he had never climbed any big walls like those at Yosemite before. Abilities aside, it was instead his passion for the vision which made him the perfect climbing partner for Tommy.

The lesson: In business, you will always face inherent challenges, but having someone beside you who also believes in the payoff will take you further. During your journey, you’ll also be faced with difficult choices. As a business owner, it’s what you do in these moments which will define the character and ethics of your brand.

4. A supportive family or partner will be there when you need it most

During the journey to the Dawn Wall, we see Tommy start a new relationship. Although he is spending months away from home, still obsessing about the Dawn Wall, his new partner, Rebecca Pietsch, becomes an invaluable support. She understands what he is trying to achieve and why, and her belief in his vision stops him from quitting when he wants to throw in the towel.

The lesson: Just like climbing a wall, starting a business is difficult, time-consuming, life consuming and lonely. You’ll falter, sometimes you’ll even fall. Having a supportive partner or family to guide you through emotionally when you’re ready to quit is key.

5. Solutions may not appear until you’re in the midst of the problem

During the climb, there’s one section that continuously falters Tommy- the dyno. After countless attempts, Tommy thinks about the situation from a different perspective. He accepts his limitations and thinks back to his research and improvises. He realises that instead of leaping across the dyno he can actually climb down from that point and then back up to resume the course just past the dyno. This was a solution he hadn’t considered until he was in the midst of the climb.

The lesson: In business, even though you can technically be prepared for every situation, you may still come across a challenge which will stump you. Often, it’s not until you’re in the middle of these situations that you can come up with a solution or an alternative.

Want to see Tommy and Kevin in action? We highly recommend checking out The Dawn Wall – consider it research!

Are you struggling to execute a vision? Need a team of experts to take digital marketing off your hands so you can focus on the day-to-day running of your business? We can help! Contact Ronin Marketing today.

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