Life Lessons




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The Power of Vulnerability in Taking Action in Your Life

Standing in 2 feet in Ashidake backcountry, Japan

It’s a warm spring day, the snow is soft, the sun is shining and there’s not a single cloud in the sky. It’s my last day of snowboard mentoring in the Catskill mountains; life is good. We’re halfway up the mountain when one of my mentees bursts into tears, crying uncontrollably and barely able to speak.  Little did she know that her sobbing would later be a turn around point to unlocking my fearlessness.

When faced with fear, we have two options: run or face it head on. When we run from fear, we shut down. We shut people out. We hope it goes away and we lose control. When we face our fears, we become empowered and learn that we’re in control.  The solution is recognizing that we have a choice.  The problem is sometimes we forget that it’s OUR choice.

This is why it’s critical to have the right relationships in our lives: they can offer perspective on what we don’t see and remind us that our fears are merely an acronym:


Through our relationships we learn we have people to support us in times of trouble.  When our fears look insurmountable, nothing is more valuable than the support of those we trust. They accompany us in our troubling times and they’re willing to share their wisdom in order to help us triumph over fear.

For me, fearlessness is directly proportional to your emotional well-being: the better off you are, the more fearless you can be.  One of the key pillars in positive psychology is that wellbeing is tied to your close relationships. Therefore, having closer relationships = being more fearless.  Notice that I’m saying “close” relationships, as all relationships are not the same.  Close relationships are those in which you trust the other person and can be vulnerable in.

Psychologists Dr. Jackson and Dr. Soderlind in their 2000 study found that “to form close relationships requires an increasing amount of vulnerability and a willingness to reveal personal issues and feelings and often leads to deeper meaning and value.” Yes, forming these types of relationships can be intimidating and not easy, but they are always worth it.

Let’s go back to my tear filled chairlift ride and how vulnerability on the chair lead to fearlessness on the slopes.

So there I am, enjoying my last day teaching my mentees how to snowboard in the Catskill mountains.  That day, I had three kids who had been with the program for three years and were all snowboarding at an intermediate level.  Before we set out for the mountain, I lead my mentees in a series of warm-up stretches and solidified their goals for the day.  One of their goals was to ride a black diamond (most difficult terrain) without falling. Pumped to get out there and help my mentees accomplish their goals, we strapped in, took a few warm up laps and headed to the black diamond section of the mountain.

Two of my mentees were fearless and bombed down the hill like two missiles but the third tentatively side slipped down most of the run, eventually coming to a stop at the bottom of the hill.  Visibly upset, she hung her head while making her way back to the chairlift.  As we were heading back up the mountain, she asked if she could ride up with me again, explaining that she wanted to talk more.

As we approached the mountain’s halfway point, I looked over and could tell she was crying underneath her goggles. As we ascended the mountain, her tears became more frequent and her lower lip began to quiver with nervousness.  Knowing that she was on the verge, I whispered “let it go,” and with that, she began to sob.  Embarrassed she tried to apologize, but was barely able to speak.  I assured her there was no need.  I told her that I was too a crier and placed my hand on her shoulder.  Relieved, she let it flow and you could feel the negative energy leave with each tear.

Not only was I honored to be part of something so raw, but I was also amazed by the courage she displayed in being vulnerable. She began to tell me how disappointed she was for side-slipping the black diamond and how scared she was to try again and fail.  I explained that trying and failing is much better than not trying at all and that every time we try, it’s never a failure if we learn something.  You could see my words wash over her tear stained face and her eyes finally looked up.  I asked her what she learned from the first run and it was like watching a light bulb go off over her head; something clicked.

We talked more on the lift and after a good cry and some laughs the energy on the chair was completely transformed. What started off as an anxiety and tear filled journey, ended with a hopeful arrival. We exited the lift, skated to the top of the run and side-by-side stared down the steep slope. Before descending, I looked into her eyes and said “you got this.” She looked down and forced a slight smile. I looked her in the eyes again and said “you got this.” She stared intently at me, her smile becoming more natural, she nodded her head in agreement. One more time, I uttered, “you got this and I got you.” We both put on an ear-to-ear grin, nodded our heads and pointed our boards forward.

What had earlier been a run of frustration, a chairlift ride of anxiety and tears, turned into not one, not two, but three victorious laps without falling.

How did she do this? She made the choice to be open: to be open to vulnerability and to be open to fear, but then to be open to inspiration, open to relationship and open to fearlessness.

That day on the mountain, I was able to participate in something inspirational. Because of my experience in these exact situations and because I was currently going through something similar, I was able to speak wisdom, sympathy and encouragement into her life and completely change the outcome of her circumstance. Here’s the beauty of relationships: because of what I did for her, she was unknowingly able to do something for me.

Just like her black diamond run, I was intimidated by the task of launching my own business. Just like she possessed the skills and ability to navigate a black diamond, I possessed the ability to launch a business and make it successful, but like her, I was fearful and intimidated.  We both had the talent, but, we were both had the fear as well.  She didn’t know that we were going through similar circumstances, but she decided to be vulnerable and her vulnerability inspired me.

Two days later, I launched my business’s first website, making my idea a reality while being vulnerable, but fearless at the same time. I made a choice, a choice to be open to my vulnerability and open to my fear.  Then I made a choice to be open to inspiration, open to fearlessness and open to relationship.

In the end, being vulnerable as individuals in our relationship lead us to being fearless as a team.

Deep down, we’re all fearless, but we don’t always remember it.  This is why we need people in our lives that we trust. Sometimes, we need to be inspired by their fearlessness and other times, we need to inspire them.  It’s not always the case that we’re all fearless at the same time, so it’s critical to ensure you have the right people surrounding you.

If you really want to be a better leader and communicator then ask yourself these two questions:

Who in your life can you be truly vulnerable with?
Who have you allowed to be truly vulnerable with you?

Next, I’d like to encourage you go out and start developing close relationships with these people.

I would like to leave you with this closing thought: Sometimes our breakdowns can lead to breakthroughs and oftentimes, it takes being vulnerable to learn to become fearless.




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*All images are from CliffHanger Academy Experiences © 2005-2017 David Mykel ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


Be Sure to Build Proper Anchors in Your Life: A Lesson on Decisiveness from Rock Climbing

The Gunks (Catskill Mountain Range), New York
I want to talk to you about a similarity between life and rock climbing, but first, some interesting considerations:

Do you know that we live in a time where there are more jobs than any other time in history, yet nearly 65% of people are unhappy with what they do.

We live in a time where we can connect with millions of people on the other side of the world with the click of a mouse, yet we are experiencing more disconnect from those who live just next door.

How can this exist?

I believe one of the major causes is that people are not creating the right anchors in their lives.

I’d like to tell you how rock climbing taught me to build anchors you can trust.

When learning how to traditional climb, often called “trad” climbing, I was taught that your anchor must have multiple points of protection and be built into something stable. The anchor is the mechanism that keeps you attached to the rock at all times and is your lifeline between a having a great day climbing and being a bloody mess on the ground below.

The process in which an anchor is created ensures that if one piece fails, the other pieces will hold up and protect the climber. This is a perfect metaphor for how to live our lives: we must not have all our well-being rooted in an unstable anchor.

Generally speaking, two types of people exist in this world: those with unstable anchors and those with stable ones. On one hand, you have a wealthy, outwardly successful person, who, by societal definitions, has “made it.” If that person’s source of happiness and self worth are only assigned to their material wealth and fleeting accomplishments, as long as their fortune and fame remains, they can sustain a sense of security and happiness. However, the moment their fortune or success staggers, they’ll be exposed and vulnerable.

On the other hand, you have a person of maybe lesser economic status and career success, but finds their self worth from a higher power, the impact they have on others through volunteering and other non-tangible, intrinsically motivated causes. Because this person has other sources of self worth, other anchors, there is less of a chance they will be traumatized when one of their other “anchors” give way.

With this type of reasoning, you can see the practical value of having spent time building solid anchors into secure foundations.
With all the choices out there, the question is: what do I anchor my life to?
This reminds me of a tragic moment I experienced climbing in Australia. I was visiting the world famous Araphiles mountains, one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the world where the landscape rises up from the colorless desert into majestic red and orange cliffs. As I approached one of these magnificent walls, I noticed something that I never seen before in my climbing career. At the base of the mountain was a plaque dedicated to a climber, a climber who built his anchor into something unstable and paid the ultimate price for it.

Anchoring into something unstable or uncertain will inevitably fail you, however, solidly build, stable anchors can save your life. Tragically, this young alpinist built his anchor into something unstable and it cost him everything.

Just like building an anchor into unstable and uncertain can lead you to being vulnerable, building a stable anchor can keep you secure. So was the case in my recent expedition to the world renowned Shawanagunks in New Paltz, New York.

I was climbing a difficult route that was at my limit for trad climbing and what started out as a beautiful climb became treacherous when rain began to fall. Fortunately, I was able to push through most of the rain exposed section, but the “crux” or the most difficult part of the climb, remained. The crux consisted of approximately five moves where I would jam my fingers into a crack in the rock and pull my weight up and over horizontal roof, using only the tension my fingers created against the hard granite for support.

I strategically worked my way through the sequence, methodically placing my hands and feet in precise spots throughout the crack, but I soon realized something: the place where I had to make the most critical move of the climb had become slippery and I was unable to create the proper tension in my grip to support my body weight. While completely parallel to the ground below, I faithfully placed my hand and began to pull up and over the corner of the roof. The next thing I know, I could feel my hand slipping, my feet slowly peeling away from the rock and my body swinging out into the open air.

What realistically only took a few seconds, felt like minutes as my entire body left the stable rock and hopelessly met the open air. My stomach moved into my throat and my hands frantically grasped at the thin, mountain air. Just when I thought all hope was lost, my hips began to pull back towards the rock, the limp rope stiffened and my fall was arrested mid-air as I sat suspended 250 feet off the ground below. Because of experience, I anchored into something solid before going for the crux and having a proper, solidly built anchor saved my life.

In rock climbing, like life, it’s critical to build solid anchors. Building strong anchors will ensure that if you do fail, you ARE protected, supported and safe. They give you the confidence to take big steps out of your comfort zone and the support system to catch you when you fall. Solid anchors are critical in rock climbing and they’re fundamental in life.

I want to leave you with this question: What in your life is worth building an anchor into? Your work? Your bank account? Your family? Your relationships? How about your faith or your character?

Time is the ultimate commodity in life. You can never buy more of it and once it’s spent, you can never get it back. Because of this, we must protect and use it with the ultimate discretion. In life, we are given chances to place value and use our precious time to build anchors into things that are temporal or things that are lasting, so I encourage you to use your time wisely and choose your anchors carefully.


Transform your life TODAY!

Are you ready for a breakthrough in your

($997 value) on how to be 

*All images are from CliffHanger Academy Experiences © 2005-2017 David Mykel



Changing Your Stance and Adapting to Life: A Tale of Snowboarding and Success



Sitting in a helicopter in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

Over time, snowboarding has drawn a lot of parallels in my life. I’ve learned numerous lessons while sliding sideways on snow and have always been grateful when I get to share these lessons with others.

Today I’d like to share one particular story and how a simple lesson in snowboarding provided wisdom on how to live a more successful life.

From 2010-2012, I checked off a bucket list item by living in the mountains of Whistler, British Columbia, Canada. Since Whistler is known for getting 400-500 inches of snow annually, (about four stories), it was a dream come true for me.

To any snowboarder, this amount of snow is a Godsend, but only if you know how to ride it properly. Because of its proximity to the Pacific coast, Whistler’s snow is heavier than most places in the world and due to the sheer amount, can be extremely difficult to navigate for the inexperienced rider.  Because of these unique conditions, you must adapt your riding style to be successful.

In snowboarding, a simple rule of thumb is to have your weight equally weight distributed across both legs. However, in order to accommodate the heavier snow conditions in Whistler, you must learn to modify this rule by placing more weight on your back leg, thereby allowing you to float through the heavy stuff.

I quickly learned that if I didn’t adapt I would have been frustrated, not go as far as I could and not become the best snowboarder I could be. This is the perfect metaphor for life: sometimes we need to adapt to our situation in order to be successful.

Adaptation helps push our boundaries, grow in ways we didn’t think possible and go further than we ever imagined.

During my time in the mountains, I learned much more than I expected, not only about snowboarding, but also about life. One of the important lessons I learned was that adapting to my environment can be the difference between success and failure.

This reminds me of one of my favorite days snowboarding. It was my first time in a helicopter and we were headed into the British Columbia backcountry. As luck would have it, I was the only passenger in the cabin with a pair of headphones and could hear what our pilot and guide were talking; to this day, I’m glad I did. Our guide had been asking to explore a specific mountain ridge for the entire season, but due to high winds, snowstorms and avalanche dangers, that was impossible…until today. Today, for the first time in three months, Mother Nature granted us a tiny window of opportunity to land atop this towering mountain. We didn’t know it, but what lay ahead of us, was some of the most epic conditions that have ever existed: bottomless powder on a snow blanketed landscape, in complete solitude.

The helicopter dropped us on a pristine piste, which was untouched by any human for over three months. It looked like an infinite landscape, with perfectly white-capped peaks in every direction, that appeared more numerous than the stars in the sky. As we stepped off the heli and crouched down into the snow, the blades of the chopper began to spin wildly and then lifted off. Before I knew it, the heli was a few kilometers away and I realized we were now alone in this vast landscape and forced to find a way down this massive peak. We traversed approximately 50 meters to the edge of the cliff, looked over the side and saw nothing but uncharted territory, or what I like to call, the perfect playground.

I dug my board into the spotless snow, adjusted my bindings, turned on my GoPro and dropped in. What happened next can only be described as pure euphoria. Each turn seemed like floating on air, snow blanketed me at every turn, rendering me blind for a few seconds as waves of powder washed over me fromhead-to-toe. The snow seemed to be bottomless and I noticed something different: the nose of my board began to sink, my speed slowed and my body was descending deeper and deeper into the snowpack. Thankfully, I remembered how to ride in these conditions, so I adapted my stance, leaned back a little and found myself effortlessly floating over the deep powder.

In snowboarding, when you’re riding heavy snow, you need to adapt, change your stance and lean back in order to get through the heavy stuff. Life is similar to this: you need to evaluate your situation, devise a strategy and adapt your approach in order to be successful, or to “lean back” when things get heavy.

Occasionally, you need to adapt the way you present information to your client for them to understand why it’s important. Other times, you need to adapt the way you exercise in order to accommodate an injury. Frequently, we need to adapt our clothing to the weather outside. Even while presenting, we need to adapt our voices in order to drive home a point and engage our audience (vocal variety).

Adaptation is not only critical to success in both professional and social worlds, but it’s also imperative to surviving in the natural world. At some stage in the evolutionary process, every living species needed to adapt in order to be successful, so why would humans be any different?

I want to leave you with this question to reflect on: what were some of the situations that forced to adapt?

Today, I want to encourage you to be mindful on whether you adapted or stagnated in these situations and how it lead to success or failure.

Throughout our life, we will have many choices: We can choose to adapt and succeed or stagnate and fail.

Which will you choose?


Transform your life TODAY!

Are you ready for a breakthrough in your

($997 value) on how to be 

*All images are from CliffHanger Academy Experiences © 2005-2017 David Mykel



Best Thing I’ve Read This Week

Steve Chapman shines a light on his inner critic – that whisper in his ear that constantly tells him he isn’t good enough and that he should never try anything new or risk making a fool of himself.

Steve tells the story of how a personal experience of failure led him to begin an MI5 style investigation into his inner critic and how he has used a variety of experimental and creative means to learn to dance with it, rather than do battle with it.

Explores the deeper recesses of personality, and talks about his relationship with his own ‘inner critic’ and self-doubt. Using creative practices, gestalt principles and mask work, he shows us that our identity and sense of self isn’t as fixed as we may believe. By learning to dance with his inner critic, rather than fight it, he has been able to notice and understand things he wasn’t aware of, and in doing so, liberate more of his own creative ambitions.



Best Thing I’ve Read This Week

Nobel Prize Scientists Have Figured out the optimal times for your body to achieve Peak Performance in Everyday Tasks

Want to know the best times to perform your most important work, compete in an event or sleep?

Check out this cutting-edge research from the newest Nobel prize winners in medicine. Since 1984, they’re studied the brain and genome effect that play a role in our body’s ability to achieve Peak Performance in certain tasks, everything from sports to sleeping

Read more here




3 Strategies for Greater INFLUENCE

by Brendon Buchard (

If you want to make a greater difference in the world, you have MASTER the art of influence.

And, yes, it is an art. Everyone knows these basics for influence:

  1. Ask better questions more consistently than others. 

Ask questions like, “What’s our goal here? Who will be impacted if we do or don’t make this decision? Whose role is this – who is accountable to make this happen? What capabilities and resources would we need to make this happen? How will we measure our progress and success?”

2. Be the lynchpin. 

If you are the connector in your network, you rise in the network’s power structure. Be the person who knows everyone’s desires and strengths, and connect people based on those things. The more people you know, and the more people you connect, the more influence you have.

3. Challenge yourself to add more value with these three questions:

(a) Is what I’m creating and contributing truly distinct?

(b) Is this my most excellent contribution possible?

(c) Am I and my work demonstrating heart and emotion?

Sometimes, this common sense isn’t common practice.

That’s why people need more in-depth training on how to even THINK about influence.

Want to be the best influencer you can be?

Transform your life TODAY!

Are you ready for a breakthrough in your

($997 value) on how to be