The biggest lesson I learned from Arno Ilgner

My biggest takeaway from the Rock Warrior’s Way was a simple reframe. 

Entitlement rears its head in climbing in many different ways, but the most common one sounds like:  “I should be sending this” “I should be able to stick that move!” “I've done way harder climbs than this one, I should have done it now” 

Entitlement always ignores the obvious and shields us from valuable learning opportunities. 

Take the climber who has just slipped off of a glossy foothold on a grade they typically flash. 

Entitlement says “that was so stupid, I shouldn't have slipped, I was climbing well”

Humility says “that's interesting, I wonder why I fell there? Maybe I wasn't as focused as I could have been on my feet? Maybe my ankle or body position wasn't optimal?” 

With a closed and annoyed mindset, the entitled climber hops back on their climb right away and has a high likelihood of making the same mistake. After repeated failure, the entitled climber either quits out of frustration or finally sticks the move, without learning much about the mechanics of the move.

With an open and curious mindset, the humble climber hops back on after some thought and directs their attention to the foot in question, experimenting diligently to find a sweet spot or body position. After some searching, the humble climber finds the beta and carefully stores it in their memory banks. 

And that example is just on the microscopic level of a single move. Imagine how the difference between the two different mindsets would exponentially magnify across a complex sport climbing project. 


The entitled climber asks "what can I take from this climb?" and the curious climber asks "what can I give to this climb" 

You'll find that people who are most consistently psyched are asking themselves a form of the second question, and that the toxic and unpleasant climbers are often focused on taking something from climbing, whether its confidence, strength, or victory over the rock or themselves. 

The funny part is that people who focus on giving their enthusiasm or focus to climbing receive more of the same confidence, strength, and send more easily. 

Learning to use climbing as a way to give your love and enthusiasm to the sport will change the way you climb forever.


The next question is: how do I step out of my entitlement mindset and into humility?

I use a four step process (OARR)

  1. Observe without judgement

  2. Accept 

  3. Reflect and reframe

  4. Repeat and remind

So lets say you hear yourself say “I should have sent this by now” 

1) Observe that you are speaking from entitlement and accept that this is normal. Remind yourself that everyone finds themselves acting from entitlement. You are human just like the rest of us <3

2) Accept this entitlement for what it is, a natural response to failure. We all think this way sometimes. 

3) Reflect: why do you believe that you should have done X?

Are your expectations in line with your preparations? 


3a) Reframe: find a way to change your dialogue. “I should’ve” becomes “that's interesting”  or “what can I learn from this?” or "how can I give more effort or focus to this challenge?"


4) Repeat: this is the hardest step. Consistently monitoring and reframing your entitlement is like tending a garden. For flowers to sprout, you’ve got to keep picking weeds. Repeated small efforts make a world of difference. Long term neglect will leave your mind overgrown and more prone to entitlement.

Remind: remember that you are working on yourself, with love. Remember to stay consistent and compassionate. 


The exciting part is that moving out of entitlement makes climbing more enjoyable, AND increases the speed you'll learn and progress!

This article, although written entirely by me, was largely inspired by the Rock Warrior's Way book. I highly recommend any climber ready it. Its also on audible for those who prefer to read that way. Thanks for reading



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