Climbing, Swinging, Jumping

I've known Mike forever. We're following each other on several media sites, he sends words of encouragement my way, and I follow, in awe and sometimes a little envy, his travels.

Mike is a special kind of individual. Between his words swings a kindness and love for life, a lust for it even, it makes anyone want to be like him a little.

But this isn't a post about how I want to be like Mike...

I don't believe in archetypes or classifications (a serious shortcoming for someone who works in psychometrics), but I accept that they're useful as illustrative tools every once in a while. One of the few I frequently employ follows me since my undergrad days, when I used them (much to the bemusement of my professors who, rightfully, didn't think undergrads should develop their own archetypes).

In short (you ready?)...

I believe we can classify humans into stair climbers, Tarzan, and BASE jumpers.

Ok, ok, I guess I have to expand on this. And why I believe this to be important. It all starts with Mike's piece. Read this first.


The Stair Climber: Their path is clear, they sees their goal, albeit a little hazy in the distance. And that's OK because the stairs to this goal are solid and well defined.

Stair Climbers approach change and goals with a focus on the path, long term planning, and a demand for solid and defined steps, ideally evenly spaced.

Tarzan: Like its namesake, Tarzans swing from vine to vine. There's an art to this, to grab hold of a new vine, test it, rely on the old one for support while assessing the new. Safety to our Tarzan means, to always have a vine to hold on to, one that has been tested. But, unlike our Stair Climber, Tarzan lets go. S/he discards the old, uses the mileage they get from it, to move on to something new. Their goal isn't far off in the distance, it's the next vine.

BASE jumper: Trust in the chute is the name of the game. The goal is below, clearly defined, the risk is great, but trusting in one's abilities and the chute is all the jumper needs.

Jumpers trust in themselves and the circumstances as well as their expertise to never let them down. This enables them to just let go, jump, fall, race towards their goal, knowing that there will be the soft (or hard) pull from the chute at the right time.

I've always been a Tarzan, I guess. Swinging for career to career, never crazy enough to let go of the tried and true before having solid purchase on something new. What I did, from academics to manual labor and later medicine, always used the old, the safety it gave me, as a fallback and safety device.

Mike is a BASE jumper, and for that I envy and admire him. He trusted, he jumped, and it seems he's having the time of his life gliding towards his goal.

I wonder what my friends see themselves as. Or you, dear reader... I, for one, am happy as the vine swinging kind, I wouldn't be where I am today without it, and I know two things: right now I am scared as all hell, but I know I can let go of this vine and swing back on my old one, and I love every second of it.