What is your Signature Theme?

So what is a Signature Theme?  A Signature Theme  presents your five most dominant themes of talent that provide true insight into the core reasons behind your consistent successes.

I get the question “what makes you tick?” a lot.  I love it.  It isn’t “what do you do for a living?” or “how are you?” or even the ever present “how’s things going?”.  I mean really… at the end of the conversation, what have you really gained?  So let us jump into getting “real”.

I want to give five (5) elements or contributors of “what makes me tick” and thus… what makes Rigging Lab Academy and Rescue Response Gear work so well.  I will put you in the driver’s seat for moment and let you see things from my perspective and give you some insight into why we do what we do.

  1. Futuristic “Wouldn’t it be great if . . .” You are the kind of person who loves to peer over the horizon. The future fascinates you. As if it were projected on the wall, you see in detail what the future might hold, and this detailed picture keeps pulling you forward, into tomorrow. While the exact content of the picture will depend on your other strengths and interests—a better product, a better team, a better life, or a better world—it will always be inspirational to you. You are a
    who sees visions of what could be and who cherishes those visions. When the present proves too frustrating and the people around you too pragmatic, you conjure up your visions of the future and they energize you. They can energize others, too. In fact, very often people look to you to describe your visions of the future. They want a picture that can raise their sights and thereby their spirits. You can paint it for them. Practice. Choose your words carefully. Make the picture as vivid as possible. People will want to latch on to the hope you bring.
  2. Activator “When can we start?” This is a recurring question in your life. You are impatient for action. You may concede that analysis has its uses or that debate and discussioncan occasionally yield some valuable insights, but deep down you know that only action is real. Only action can make things happen. Only action leads to performance. You believe that action is the best device for learning. You make a decision, you take action, you look at the result, and you learn. This learning informs your next action and your next. How can you grow if you have nothing to react to? Well, you believe you can’t. You must put yourself out there. You must take the next step. It is the only way to keep your thinking fresh and informed. The bottom line is this: You know you will be judged not by what you say, not by what you think, but by what you get done. This does not frighten you. It pleases you.
  3. Maximizer Excellence, not average, is your measure. Taking something from below average to slightly above average takes a great deal of effort and in your opinion is not very rewarding. Transforming something strong into something superb takes just as much effort but is much more thrilling. Strengths, whether yours or someone else’s, fascinate you. Like a diver after pearls, you search them out, watching for the telltale signs of a strength. A glimpse of untutored excellence, rapid learning, a skill mastered without recourse to steps—all these are clues that a strength may be in play. And having found a strength, you feel compelled to nurture it, refine it, and stretch it toward excellence. You polish the pearl until it shines. This natural sorting of strengths means that others see you as discriminating. You choose to spend time with people who appreciate your particular strengths. Likewise, you are attracted to others who seem to have found and cultivated their own strengths. You tend to avoid those who want to fix you and make you well rounded. You don’t want to spend your life bemoaning what you lack. Rather, you want to capitalize on the gifts with which you are blessed. It’s more fun. It’s more productive. And, counterintuitively, it is more demanding.
  4. Ideation You are fascinated by ideas. What is an idea? An idea is a concept, the best explanation of the most events. You are delighted when you discover beneath the complex surface an elegantly simple concept to explain why things are the way they are. An idea is a connection. Yours is the kind of mind that is always looking for connections, and so you are intrigued when seemingly disparate phenomena can be linked by an obscure connection. An idea is a new perspective on familiar challenges. You revel in taking the world we all know and turning it around so we can view it from a strange but strangely enlightening angle. You love all these ideas because they are profound, because they are novel, because they are clarifying, because they are contrary, because they are bizarre. For all these reasons you derive a jolt of energy whenever a new idea occurs to you. Others may label you creative or original or conceptual or even smart. Perhaps you are all of these. Who can be sure? What you are sure of is that ideas are thrilling. And on most days this is enough.
  5. Significance You want to be very significant in the eyes of other people. In the truest sense of the word you want to be recognized. You want to be heard. You want to stand out. You want to be known. In particular, you want to be known and appreciated for the unique strengths you bring. You feel a need to be admired as credible, professional, and successful. Likewise, you want to associate with others who are credible, professional, and successful. And if they aren’t, you will push them to achieve until they are. Or you will move on. An independent spirit, you want your work to be a way of life rather than a job, and in that work you want to be given free rein, the leeway to do things your way. Your yearnings feel intense to you, and you honor those yearnings. And so your life is filled with goals, achievements, or qualifications that you crave. Whatever your focus—and each person is distinct—your Significance theme will keep pulling you upward, away from the mediocre toward the exceptional. It is the theme that keeps you reaching.

OK… so there you have it.  It this me?  Is this what you think of when you think of Rescue Response Gear or Rigging Lab Academy?  You’ll have to determine these answers on your own.  All I can say is that if you are in alignment with these talents and our direction, then you know where we are going.  I want you to join with me in this adventure and sojourn.  We are world changers and we need each other to do it.

Peace on your days…


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The New Search and Rescue Mini Course!

Search and Rescue (SAR) professionals wear many hats during their careers. Logistics and protocol gobble up much of your training time while ground pounding and search grids often consume the lion’s share of SAR professional. However, the “technical rope rescue” side of things is always the elephant in the room; less than 10% of any given team can truly wrap their head around all that goes into this stuff.

Our goal here at Rigging Lab Academy is to

  1. Minimize the time allotment for learning critical technical concepts.
  2. Set you on a path for higher learning and a solid knowledge base.

Today, I’m thrilled to open the doors to something new at Rigging Lab Academy: our new Search and Rescue Mini-Course.  Having been in SAR for many years, I know first hand how hard it can be to obtain excellent study material, so I kept this in the fore front of my mind and created this mini-course by hand-selecting individual units from 10 of our most popular SAR themed courses.

If you’d like to increase your knowledge of technical rope rescue as it applies to Search and Rescue — and get a sampling of some of our best-selling SAR course material — this Search and Rescue Mini-Course is for you.

Inside this free mini-course, we share invaluable pieces of knowledge on topics like…

  • Artificial high directionals in the backcountry
  • Critical components for rigging light and fast systems
  • When and where to bolt
  • The use of cams for anchors when the choice for anchors are limited
  • Limiting tension within systems
  • Spanning huge gaps without the need for highlines
  • And litter handling


This mini-course was specifically designed with the search and rescue professional in mind.  Thank you for all you do.

Peace on your days



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Search and Rescue (SAR) professionals wear many hats during their careers

Hidden Content


Solidarity is about Purpose and Placement

Keeping it together, while under pressure is not a gift (per say).  It comes with a constant dose of being Purposeful and knowing the right thing to do… Placement.  While hanging out with some amazing trainers, as well as technicians… many of whom are US Marines, I caught a glimpse of what professionalism is.  Learning and gear, are simply two of three components.  The third is experience.  And experience only comes with time and the willingness step it up and get out of the comfortable.

Purpose is simply the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.  In other words, you need to know why you are there and have as your intention orobjective focused specifically at that point.

Placement is the action of putting yourself, someone or something in a particular place or the fact of being placed… for a specific reason.

During the referenced scenario, Matt Shove (Peak Rescue Instructor and owner operator of Ragged Mountain Guides) had been discussing anchor setting and the use of camming units and nuts.  Being in the moment and understanding exactly what the objectives are… i.e. loads, direction of pull (vector), proper placement and force on the anchor were all made very clear.  There is not a ton of tolerance with using these products, however, when done properly… they can exceed many of what some might call “solid” and really aren’t.  The difference is in the detail and experience.

These are actually a life skills.  If you don’t make these part of your life, they won’t be part of your training. Not trying to be a mom, but I am wanting to be a good steward with what has been given to me… so simply passing this on.

So my friends, keep this stuff  in mind when your are out rigging or configuring something within the box or out of the box.  Be willing to experiment, but never lose sight of the goal and the process and remember… if it ain’t simple you could be climbing up the wrong tree.

  1. What is my purpose?
  2. What is my placement?

Need some extra help on things?  Check out the RLA headquarters and check out our resources.


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Making An Impact In The Lives Of People…Proper Relationships

“Maintaining perishable personal rigging skills associated with rope rescue requires conducting regular recurrent training. Manipulative drills will directly increase personal proficiency and improve organizational readiness. Rescuers need to stay current with accepted industry practices. It is also critical that commercial rescue equipment be employed in a manner that complies with the manufacturer’s operating instructions” (National Technical Rescue Handbook 2014)

As I move into this next week, I get the honor of hanging out with Peak Rescue Institute at one of the most amazing venues ever…Joshua Tree National Park. I will be getting some  pick-up shots for our newly released Technical Rope Rescue, sweet still images for our websites and of course… hanging out and catching up with folks I haven’t seen in a while.

Personal relationships, like rigging skills are perishable and require on-going training.  Personal proficiency is directly related to the time, effort and management of the keeping your relationships in top form.

And as with rigging practices, there are accepted relational responsibilities we have with people.  Everyone deserves the best… however, not everyone needs to be in the sphere of influence you are working on at the time.  There are time and seasons for everyone and everything.

A great friend of mine once told me, “everyone is my friend until they don’t want to be”.  Why is this important?   Put your efforts into what matters most and gleans the greatest rewards for the relationships (as they are a two way street).

And remember, your rigging systems are exactly the same as your relationships… The better you attend to their “best”, the better off y’all be!!


Peace on your days…




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CMC MPD vs Petzl ID Using an Inside 9 Mechanical Advantage

The “Inside 9” gives a 9:1 mechanical advantage and no person is needed to tend the CMC MPD and the Petzl I’D functioning as the progress capture for the raising system and thus provide an easy transfer back to a lowering system.

Other product included in video footage:

Sterling 7/16 HTP

HTP (hyper-tenacity polyester) is a multi-use rescue/rappel rope that resists moisture and has high abrasion resistance.

Rock Exotica Swivel Pulleys

The unique design of the Omni with a swivel top is equivalent to three pieces of hardware: the pulley, the swivel and the carabiner to connect them. The result is one compact tool that costs less than the three pieces of hardware it replaces.

Petzl Minder Pulley

The Petzl MINDER is a single sheave, general use rated pulley. Designed to accommodate the use of a prusik hitch as a means of progress capture.

Petzl AM’d Carabiners

D-shaped locking carabiner for attaching devices to a harness

Petzl I’D Petzl Ascension

Petzl’s popular I’D, short for industrial descender, is quickly becoming a must have for tech rescue and rope access professionals. It’s versatility, safety and smooth action make the I’D indispensable for personal positioning, system tensioning, belaying and much more.  


The CMC MPD is the innovative multi-purpose device that allows the user to go from lowering to raising without changing hardware.The CMC MPD is a UL Classified pulley, descent control device and belay device. A high efficiency pulley with an integral rope-grab mechanism optimizes the best of both worlds.


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Artificial High Direction (AHD) Easel A-Frame Using Arizona Vortex Multipod Part 2


As noted in other literature, the most overlooked challenge of setting up any AHD is controlling the vector forces or resultants.  Now, we have a bunch of training videos through Rigging Lab Academy that talk about this in depth, but for this short snippet, I am simply making this a point of reference.  And while this video shows the CMC Arizona Vortex Multipod, the applied physics also are true for the TerrAdaptor from SMC and PMI.

The AHD can easily move about trying to figure it’s own neutral path (while under load) and it is up to the technical crew to mitigate this and determine the correct path upfront (which is to find the intended focal point). This should happen at the point of bringing up the AHD to the edge.  Whether this is at the edge, back from the edge or somewhere in between… a plan and strategy must be taking shape before this actually happens.

Guying systems are what I would call a foundational truth.  In other words, the guying system keeps the AHD in place so that the vector forces, when applied, keep the feet placements permanently in force.  In the case of using an Easel A Frame, the resultants are kept inside the “footprint”.  Often, not a super critical point of rigging, the Easel A Frame is chosen for its broad appeal for many riggers and a wide tolerance for usage, as it provides larger footprint than other configurations.

A really nice feature of the Easel A is the configuration from a tripod set up (meaning the resultant is more or less in the middle of the footprint (inside the three feet) to a configuration where the resultant is moved to closer to the fall line. This adjustment modifies the compression-tension forces and is the difference between a tripod (all three legs are in compression) vs an Easel A (where the two front legs are in compression and the back leg is in tension.

Always remember to attach a tagline to the head of the AHD placement as it needs to be anchored securely in order to prevent a displacement caused by tension and compression forces.  This anchor line runs along with and past the easel leg.

As always… rig safely and once the foundations are understood… be creative!


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The Truth About How We Learn

When we created Rigging Lab Academy, we had a few things in mind before we stepped foot into the world if online video training for rope rescue and rigging athletes.  Five of them are listed here.

1) Our brain craves EASE & ORDER

It will always choose the easy route. It hates complexity. It will automatically seek out shortcuts. People want an EASY experience, more than anything. Unfortunately, much of our society won’t let that happen.

Rigging and Gear Implication: Eliminate the unnecessary so the necessary can work even better. Don’t overwhelm. Simplify everything.

2) We have a very limited ATTENTION SPAN

Did you know our attention spans is roughly eight seconds now?  To many options are a hindrance to many of us. If we’re presented with too many choices, we end up choosing nothing or reducing the outcome to “less”.

Rigging and Gear Implication: Thin out the rigging systems that are old, worn out or require to many people.  Remove gear that no longer makes sense or doesn’t have multiple uses. Make choices clear and easy to understand. Always align the rigging and rescue techniques with the intended goal and the goal must be understood and agreed upon.

3) We are VISUAL

90% of what we learn is visual. We learn by seeing. Images over words!  We scan now… reading takes to long. Motor memory is huge, so whether improvisations with anchor systems, raise and lower changeovers or understanding mechanical advantage system progression… visualizing prior to motor skills improves the outcome greatly.

Rigging and Gear Implication: “Show” rather than “tell.” Video training built into learning a new belay device or pick-off technique is always better.

4) We respond to EMOTION

The brain remembers events triggered by emotion. We remember first impressions, because 90% of the decisions we make are driven by emotion (in our subconscious). Want your team to remember you are teaching them?.. making things exciting.  Learning rappelling is always more exciting at the cliff than indoors.  Creating an entire team based 5th class litter scenario using a 2 tension rope system will always be more memorable on location than stuck indoors…

Rigging and Gear  Implication: Making sure people are connected to the goals and vision is crucial. Never “sell” your vision without a story.  Give them something to believe in. Remember, at best 30% of your technical rescue team is vested into the process… the rest are along for the ride for other reasons.  To get them onboard, they need to believe in what you are asking them to do.

5) We are attracted to BEAUTY

We are visceral creatures and  visually pleasing outcomes are better than not. Make a photo opportunity for every rigging and rope rescue scenario you build. Good design is the first rule of success. Significance is built into the design.  Design matters way more than you’d think. There is a reason why Petzl, Black Diamond and others are so socially attractive… their products match the goal of aesthetically pleasing systems start from aesthetically pleasing product which began at the design phase.

Rigging and Gear Implication: Consider the Petzl I’d and Petzl GriGri. The I’d is the industrial version of the GriGri  The design revolutionized first lowering, then revolutionized raise and lower systems.  Why?;  the design was exceptional.  So much so that transitions and changeovers are now “no brainers”.  The hold-down is the friction gain in the raise, but that is mis-use of the intended purpose… Yet even with this, a Petzl I’d for both MA and MdA (disadvantage) is an common as the rescue rope being used in the system  NOTE… watch.  I believe someone (Petzl or otherwise) will fix this Kirk Mauthner / BaseCamp Innovations  has changed much of the “first world” rigging operations because he continues to life and a process of innovation.

Rigging and Rescue Training and Equipment should be…

  • EASY


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Why are rescue and rigging anchors more important than anything else?

In our heads, we know that anchors are the most important part of any rigging or rescue system.  We know that because it has been drilled into our skulls, but I would venture to say that the reasons for this is inescapably unclear for many.  

My goal here is to simply bring about a general understanding of what is considered “best practices” within the discipline of anchor building.  This “head knowledge” must be applied at the ground level as well… best through hands on instruction first and then field practice.  If you do this, your “rigging life” will be long and prosperous.  If you don’t, things could end rather abruptly.

There two functional elements to anchor systems.

  1. Choosing the “object”.
  2. Rigging the anchor.

We have put together an amazing ebook that walks through 10 types of rigging systems.  Now these are “rigging”, as opposed to the “objects” being rigged to.

  1. Wrap 3, Pull 2
  2. High Strength Tie-Off
  3. Fixed Multi-Point Anchor System (Load Sharing)
  4. Back-Ties
  5. Opposition Anchors
  6. Floating Anchors
  7. Artificial Anchors (Cams, Tapers, Hex and bolts)
  8. Artificial Anchors (other types)
  9. Bolts
  10. Picket Anchor Systems

Anchors are the most critical component of any rope rescue system and the entire rescue is in jeopardy if the anchors are not reliable. We hope that you found the material inside this eBook to be helpful, insightful, and encouraging. If you’d like to continue learningabout anchors and other rigging disciplines, we hope you’ll join us over at Rigging Lab Academy.

Pick up your FREE copy of The Foundations of Rescue and Rigging Anchors Systems


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The Difference Between Leading and Bleeding=Changing The World

To change the world, leading will always have some bleeding, but never mistake bleeding for leading.  Almost every one of us feel at some point that we can or should be a part of changing the world.  Now, before you brush this off, think about it.  We all have opinions right?  We make judgements towards, with or against someone or something.  Many of these sentiments are incredibly emotional.  These are elements of paradigm shifts.  These shifts are what’s needed to create movements.  Movements create the shifts that ultimately change the course of people’s lives… thus becoming world changers.  Are you this person?

If you are (and I believe you are)… there are a few things that need to be worked out.  First… there are a few challenges.  The world is too big of a place for me to change. I don’t really have the talents or skills to make much of an impact.  Or how about…?  I am not meant to be anything more than what I am currently doing.  So while these three challenges to change the world are possible… I want to suggest they are neither logical nor factual.  As you have heard me say before… perspective is everything right?

Changes to large systems normally occur in shifts of degrees.  Having the authority to change something doesn’t always mean we have permission to do it.  Yet permission being granted is more often a response to a request.  “Can I help change the world”?  And the response… “Well of course!  Where would you like to start”?  So now that we have permission, the one giving permission just authorized you as well.  So my friend… you are clear now to move about the cabin and start making shifts.

So while this forum or post is directed towards riggers and rescuers, you might be asking “how in the world does rope handling and pulley systems change anybody’s world much less my own”?  In some respects, it might not.  But in the real world of people, courage comes from not just knowledge, but by people believing in them.  See, just as say Rigging Lab Academy helps to focus and guide people and departments towards a heighten understanding of systems and capabilities, when people intersect with the lives of others there can be an exponential increase in motivation, understanding and knowledge…. resulting in greater skills and thus strengths.  When this happens the resultant focus on any one particular person… when positioned correctly, will create a paradigm shift in the atmosphere they work in.  I have personally seen this in Mexico, Nicaragua and in Honduras.  The people in our training, were also highly positioned government officials and this set off an incredible “lift component” and transformation was well under way.

The plan is always the same…

  1. Find the talent needed for the increase
  2. Increase the skill levels commensurate for the requirements
  3. Then focus those strengths directly towards the intended target


The biggest aspect or challenge at this point is… yep!…  What am I focusing on?  Your Action Requirements.  It is never enough to simply focus on the “job at hand”.  Single focus never has the same impact as does  multidimensional focus.  This means focusing not just on the task, but person contributing to the task.  This requires leadership qualities and to remain in “learning mode” at all times.  See, everyone is waiting for “a promotion”.  A promotion without a proper alignment with the person’s talents and skills is actually a demotion.  The critical failure of any organizational system is a failure in true leadership.  A leader leads people in proper alignment.  A dictator tells people what to do and where to go.  One will succeed and the other will fail.  Guess which is Leading and which is Bleeding?

With success comes a level of trauma right?  Everything worth fighting for is worth failing in the attempt.  When it comes to Leadership, the leader must always invest themselves into the process.  When one person bleeds, the other must as well.  Why?  Because Authority and Respect are levels of leadership that only come from The Fight.  Fear and respect are not the same and authority without respect is fear.  Fear never builds, it only destroys.

We are created to be world changers!  All of us.  You have and will continue to hear me talk about cross-pollination and hybridization and both have the same goal… to alter the DNA and to achieve an intended purpose not available by one element alone.  So we start here… learning from other world changers in industries we may not understand or know about.  What this will do is bring about the clash between Principles (Guidelines) and Process (rules).  I am looking forward to seeing the clash!! 🙂

Peace on your days!






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