I have always been fascinated with the notion of going beyond the expected. The assumed. I have felt a calling to seek the highest level of achievement in most of my life pursuits. And, I learned all too well (as a result of many trials and errors) - the best way to achieve the outcomes of my dreams was to prepare. Fastidiously prepare. To help me do this, I have sought role models and guides. I used the guidance of others to help craft my preparation. I've relied on this "guidance by mentorship" model my whole life.
One guide I have recently enlisted is a person I have never met. In fact, I can't say I know too much about him outside of his enormous accomplishments in free solo rock climbing. Free solo climbing, for those not aware, is rock climbing without ropes or safety devices. There are no harnesses. No fixed ropes. Just the climber and the rock. The worlds single greatest free solo climber is Alex Honnold. He is the epitome of movement as an expression of art and creativity.
Honnold's greatest accomplishment, and the climb that put him in the record books, was an unassisted climb of the Dawn Wall on Yosemite's El Capitan. It is a remarkable feat that is nearly impossible to describe. (I suggest you check out the trailer to the feature length film about his record climb.)
From a purely outside perspective, Honnold appears a bit reckless, almost daredevil. He is, in reality, quite the opposite. For Honnold is a consummate planner who considers every aspects of his climbs. To prepare for the Dawn Wall, he reconnoiter the climb for years. Practicing handholds, routes, and timing . . . over and over again, until he found the edge of his learning. And, it was at this edge - that he found what was truly possible.
I feel this same way about the work of global health. It is critical that all the work involve planning and preparation. We need to be mindful to the many aspects of our work and the impacts of our efforts. From culture to social dynamics, we must prepare before we implement. However, at some point - you reach an edge. A time when the preparation stops and the implementation begins. And, it's this edge - when planning and preparation meet timing and understanding - that true change happens. This is the edge I am forever seeking . . . in my own life and the work of Health Bridges.
The HBI Blog is a rotating journal from our staff. Our Blog is a series of messages from the field, insights from our work, and lessons in service.