In 1952, a New Zealand mountaineer named Edmund Hillary was being awarded in a public event for his bravery and commitment in his courageous, but failed, attempt to scale Mt Everest. The awards hall was filled with news reporters, royalty and colleagues. A huge picture of Mt Everest adorned the wall. And Edmund Hillary sat trembling in his seat, seething with discontent and frustration, for he had not yet scaled the world’s tallest peak.
At the climax of the event, Hillary was invited to speak. He took to the podium, turned to the picture of Everest and shook his fist in defiance at the image. Shouting at the top of his lungs, he cried “Everest, you beat me this time, but I will return to conquer you, because you have grown all you can, and I’m still growing!” And on May 29th, 1953, he became the first man to summit Mt Everest.
There are tremendous lessons to be learned in such an epic battle of overcoming obstacles. The first and greatest lesson is that the person we are today may not be enough to conquer our own Everest. But if we resolve to learn, change and grow, we can become the person required to make our dreams come true.
Les Brown, a powerful American motivational speaker, shares this philosophy: “If anyone can do it, it’s possible that I can do it.” That philosophy carried me across the finish line in one of the greatest work challenges I ever faced: my first job ghost-authoring a book for a client. I was hired to write a motivational book in 42 days and the book was to be launched into every Chapters book store in Canada. The task may seem impossible, but I had a secret weapon: I knew that it had been done before. I knew the story of Tony Robbins, one of the world’s greatest self-help authors and speakers, and I knew that he had written the first draft of his first book, over 400 pages, in 30 days. I had 42 days to write only 250 pages, a less challenging project. And I truly believed that if ANYONE has done it, it’s POSSIBLE that I could do it.
Contrast this with the pessimistic outlook of most people wandering through life who focus on stories of defeat. They watch a friend quit a diet program, a university degree, or a relationship, and they think that their own fate has been sealed. They say “I know someone who tried that diet/business opportunity/university course/smoking cessation program, and they didn’t make it. Therefore, if someone HASN’T done it, it’s LIKELY that I can’t either.”
And therein lays the underlying philosophy that separates the also-rans from the world-changers. The phrase on my gym sweat shirt says “Quitters quit when they’re TIRED; winners quit when they’ve WON”. Colonel Sanders tried to sell his seasoned chicken recipe ONE THOUSAND and NINE times before someone said “yes”, and Kentucky Fried Chicken was born. Thomas Edison had failed over 10,000 times before finding the correct solution to creating a light bulb. Many people would scoff at such persistence, labeling it foolhardy and quitting on their dreams at the first sign of resistance. But Thomas Edison was a winner, not a quitter… and when Thomas Edison dreamed, the night disappeared. Don’t choose to quit; choose to win.