The alarm went off at 5:00am. It was a special day; my son had invited me to go rock climbing in the Witchita Mountains in southwest Oklahoma. Soon we were on the road, bright and early. The fall foliage colored the landscape with bright reds and unique yellows, the air – crisp and clean. A perfect day for climbing!

It was a first for me. However, my son Andy is an experienced and talented climber. After arriving at the park, he led the way as we hiked forty-five minutes across the boulder dotted landscape.

We traversed by wild buffalo, deer and who knows what other kinds of critters, finally arriving at a rock formation called “The Lost Dome.” Before I knew it I was “on the wall,” making my first ever climb.

As I reflected back on the day, I suddenly realized I had learned many valuable lessons. I’d like to share some of them as a tribute to my son, who is a great young man. Here’s what I learned:

1. With proper coaching, you can accomplish great feats

Honestly, I was a little intimidated as I looked up at the 90 foot granite wall. However, Andy coached me step by step, explaining about my equipment, and the climb. Only with his help, was this even possible.

Lesson learned: We must have others to help us on the journey of life. We can’t get it done without them.

Relationships are important aren’t they? Are you connected with anyone?

2. Hard challenges are great morale boosters

I hate to admit it, but about ten feet up the wall I was ready to give up! I mean really! My hands hurt from the sharp granite, my toes, legs and arms were throbbing - in harmony!

My thoughts hounded me…this is not good, a fifty-six year old man hanging on the side of a mountain! After twenty minutes of taking it “one move at a time,” I made it to the top.

Lesson learned: Persistence pays great dividends. I really felt like I had accomplished something - I’m still pumped!

3. We need comrades who will cheer us on.

One thing that really stood out was the camaraderie I witnessed at the slopes that day. It was like they all knew each other. (Really they didn’t!)

Interestingly, I got stuck at one point about seventy feet into the climb. One of the fellow rock climbers then climbed up next to me and gave me a few pointers. Imagine that! Then they climbed above me and took my picture. How neat!

Lesson learned: We all need comrades to cheer us on as we walk through life. Those willing to climb along side and help.


Life itself is full of valuable lessons – teachable moments. I know I certainly experienced one this weekend. An old Proverb tell us that wisdom speaks from the streets at the place where the paths meet. (Holy Bible-Prov. 8:1-3)

Will I try climbing again? Sure! Will I become a pro? I doubt it! However, I did have a great time and learned some valuable lessons from my son, The Cliff Hanger!

Coach John

Author's Bio: 

Hi, I’m John Chasteen and I currently serve as the executive director of Southwestern Christian University’s LifeCoaching Institute in Bethany, OK.

My life purpose and mandate is to aid, teach and coach 21st century leaders to discover their life purpose, then walk it out through strategic living, resulting in a fulfilling and satisfied life. I also am drawn to helping leaders through the means of life coaching, writing, teaching, and consulting.