Here's a question: How do you define 'badass'?  

Alex Honnold's freesolo of Freerider was badass.  Definitely.  BASE jumping is badass. But do you need to jump off stuff or climb ridiculously hard and/or without a rope to qualify as badass?  Does being 'badass' mean that you must be willing to risk life and limb? 

 Badass views, with a rope 

Badass views, with a rope 

I don't think so. OK, you may ask, then what does it mean to be (a) badass? Here's what the dictionary definition for 'badass' is according to Google: 

badass -- ˈbadas/
adjective

  1. 1.
    tough, uncompromising, or intimidating.
    "a badass demeanour"
     

Mmmh, funny.  Yeah I can see the 'tough' part; I disagree quite heartily with the 'uncompromising' bit. Yes, when I think of examples of badassery I think of folks like Jess Roskelley and Clint Helander on the Gauntlet Ridge.  I think of Paul and his lifelong big-wall exploits.  But I also think of someone like Kristine, whom I met at an AndShesDopeToo Rendezvous last year, who wouldn't let others tell her that she couldn’t, and shaped herself into a long-distance runner despite her asthma.  I think of my best friend Katrin, not an athlete, who decided to complete an Ironman... and did.  I think of my mom, who trained for and summited Kilimanjaro at age 65 - for no other reason than to see if she could.  I'd venture to argue that being tough plays into all of these feats, yet none of them require you to be uncompromising.

 Bad-ass climbing or mostly just a pretty picture? (Hint: the route is 5.6, and this section is a 4th class scramble)

Bad-ass climbing or mostly just a pretty picture? (Hint: the route is 5.6, and this section is a 4th class scramble)

In my view, badasses are people who defy conventional expectations of capability; not just other people's expectations but also - and maybe most importantly - their own expectations of what they should be capable of.

 67 years old and still stoked to get on a via ferrata? Badass in my book. (Hi dad!)

67 years old and still stoked to get on a via ferrata? Badass in my book. (Hi dad!)

 Yes, badasses are people who push outside their comfort zones and go beyond what others believe should be possible - but also people like you and I who are willing to try something that they themselves aren't sure will be within their realm of the possible. Clint and Jess on Mt. Huntington - badasses measured by the absolute level of their achievement - just as much as Kristine and her first half marathon. 

So how about the third part of that Google definition: 'tough, uncompromising, or intimidating'? I'd like to suggest replacing 'intimidating' with 'inspiring.'  Yes, the more of us dare to try and surpass our own expectations of what we think we can do, the more we all (current, aspiring, and non-badasses alike) lose our excuses for not going after hair-raising goals, really big ambitious projects and far-off dreams.  So maybe that makes the badasses among us a touch intimidating to the rest of the world; but they're also a fantastic source of inspiration, for me at least.  I'm not suggesting you go off and try to free-solo El Capitan, but seriously... as far as those other big dreams of yours are concerned: what are you waiting for?

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