Can you picture each foothold?

Can you picture each foothold?

by | Nov 5, 2018 | Hustle and Fire

Champion athletes win because they have spent years of their lives practicing for the big game. And not just practicing to develop muscle memory, which makes sense for physical activities, but also to visualize each move, each scenario.

Recently, I watched Free Solo, the story of Alex Honnold’s no-ropes climb of El Capitan, a physical feat that would not have been possible without extreme mental preparation. Over the course of the film, we watch Alex spend YEARS practicing and testing different parts of the ascent, testing different footholds and hand grips, different maneuvers around tricky passes.

Alex has exactly one chance to get this right. If he does not climb the face of the mountain perfectly, he will fall to his death.

The thing that struck me though is that Alex was always in good physical shape. He had been free climbing without ropes on mountains his entire life. He likes to hang from his finger tips when he’s bored in the van he sleeps in. Climbing is his whole life.

The moment he was ready to climb El Capitan though was the moment he could visualize the entire climb in his mind. He could sit in bed and picture every single foothold, every single place where he would have to change the hand grip from left to right to shift his weight and inch his way up the cliff.

When he could picture it, he could do it. And he did.

This is true for all serious athletes. The game is in our minds. We can’t win if we can’t picture the moves that get us there.

And this is true for founders too. Successful serial entrepreneurs build their startups differently than first-time founders because they can picture the moves. They know what steps need to be taken in what order to reach the goal. They can picture how they will win.

It’s still scary. It still might not work. But the path is clear. Each foothold along the ascent is known.


I developed the Fluent Founder Roadmap to help first-time founders build their startups like serial entrepreneurs. If you are lost or can’t picture your next move, take a look at the questions to see which one needs your attention next. And always, I’m happy to help founders and accelerators develop these skills. Reach out at to learn more!


Each day, I publish an idea I'm working on, highlights from a founder coaching session, or other tidbits from my work with founders, investors, corporate partners, and accelerators. Check out the Hustle+Fire blog for more.