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The Art of Intelligent Rest

Solo climber, Thomas Bubendorfer is the most experienced European adventure keynote speaker on the international circuit & talks of teamwork & self belief

I find that when addressing business audiences the biggest challenge for me, as a sports - or adventure speaker - is to be aware of the main differences between my world and the business world. Otherwise, my speech with its spectacular feats, photos and videos (what I do in the mountains of the world is usually beyond the comprehension of most people) may impress an audience, but how much will they learn and take away.

For me, business (high) achievers are “corporate athletes”. They perform permanently, on a daily basis, for many hours, six days a week and more, with travelling on the weekends being the norm, for some 48 weeks a year at least. It is a permanent marathon. They are rarely well rested. The phases for rest and regeneration are negligible. Consequently, deficits and imbalances are accumulated and potentials can hardly be fulfilled.

In contrast, professional athletes (all kinds of artists as well) do not permanently perform on a high level. Occasionally, they peak-perform, and they do so always well prepared and always very well rested. There is a near-perfect balance between their performances and their rest-phases. In fact, the art of athletic and artistic peak performance really is the art of intelligent rest. This is an issue I do not tire to point out to my audiences rather than instilling upon them the rather obvious parallels - performing at the highest level; setting ever more challenging goals; there being no “endpoint” - between a climbing athlete such as myself, and the corporate athlete.

Moving up a vertical or overhanging rock/ice face – calls for constant mental and physical movement. No matter how fit you are, you must decide and act, decide and act... You can only “remain” for a short time on a “safe” hold, for time is always running out: in terms of your strength, in terms of the weather, light of day, etc. If you don’t take action as a climber, nature will “decide” for you, and you will go down (based on the natural law of gravity).

The business person does not need to fight gravity, but does have competition. If they don’t decide and take calculated risks, (and the competition does) the business goes down too. We all seek “safety” and we want guarantees. As a successful solo climber with more than 100 solo climbs around the world to my record, I know full well that there are no guarantees, and that safety does not lie within things (ropes, pitons, a partner), but safety must lie within myself: in my preparation, my skill, my cold nerve and self-control; my certainty as a professional. The knowledge that no matter what the mountain has in store for me, I will be able to respond accordingly and safely to the unforeseen.

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