In 2017, Alex Honnold did something no one had ever done.

He climbed the 3,000m El Capitan vertical rock formation in California’s Yosemite National Park

(A football pitch is about 100 metres long. So he climbed 30 football pitches vertically. Without a rope).


At the beginning, Alex feared failing because failure wouldn’t bring ridicule, injury or bankruptcy.

It’d kill him.

So he didn’t tell his mum about it until after he’d done it.


Anyhow, Alex practiced.

For 8 years.

He climbed with ropes to learn every inch of the sheer wall so he could conquer the physical part of the 4(ish) hour challenge.

But the mental side was harder because he could actually imagine that failure felt like.

He’d die.


Somehow, when he was ready to climb, he wasn’t scared at all.

This lack of fear was down to being so well prepared that he didn’t doubt he could do it.

And he knew this truth:

Doubt is the precursor to fear.

I like this quote.

I suppose it’s simply saying that if you prepare enough – if you practice enough – doubt disappears. And so too does fear.


If this is true, and I think it is, it means that so much more is within our reach.

Any time. Any place. Any age.

All we have to do is want it enough.


  1. Hi Michael –

    The documentary was riveting – Free Solo.
    Still unbelievable that he did it knowing there was absolutely no room for error. Any mistake would be fatal – puts “everyday” fears into perspective.


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