My buddy invited me to go climbing with him. I had never been, but the concept seemed easy enough: get up a rock wall.
I had no clue what I was actually in for.
As we approached the cliff, I realized that he didn’t have any ropes!
It was at that moment that I learned what ‘free solo climbing’ was. I wish I would have asked sooner, but still, I was going to make it to the top of that ciff.
We started up a wedge that went up 25 feet…and it just got more challenging from there. I decided to try to find an easier route and in doing so, ended up trying to shimmy around an outcropping of rock.
Below me there was a 40 foot drop with jagged rocks. The part of the mountain that I was on had been baking in the sun all afternoon and was piping hot. The heat and the nerves got to me and I started to sweat.
I tried to shimmy faster, but–I slipped.
Then slipped again.
I was losing grip and panic started to set in.
Looking around me, I screamed–but no one heard me. I knew that either I would find a way to the top or I would fall to the bottom. With determined desperation, I saw a little plant, barely growing in a mountain crack. I slowly, carefully crawled my fingers up and grabbed on, which took just enough pressure off to stop me from slipping off and helped me find a good foothold.
I almost died–and would have, had I waited for someone to save me.
I had to act and believe it would work. As it is written in Endurance, the book about Shackleton’s unbelievable journey where he saved a doomed Antarctic polar exploration, “No matter what the odds, a man does not pin his last hope for survival on something and then expect that it will fail.”
I recently was talking to my roommate who is a master at being curious. He has such a ferocious hunger to become an expert at what he is doing that he stops at nothing until he gets there. He told me of someone who asked, ‘How does someone become as good as Mozart?’
The response he read sent a chill of truth to his core, ‘If you have to ask, you’ll never know.’
He was that good because he did what it took to become “Mozart.”
There is a certain amount of work required to get the results you desire, but from what I’ve seen of the most successful people, there comes a point where the paved road ends and the mountains begin. And real success is on the other side.
As Nikos Kazantzakis, a philosopher and author, said, “The Nonexistent is whatever we have not sufficiently desired, whatever we have not irrigated with our blood to such a degree that it becomes strong enough to stride across the somber threshold of nonexistence” (‘Report to Greco,’ p.434).
Yes, there are times that things will seem impossible. But we must realize that if we hit those walls of adversity, they will fall over and turn into ramps that will take us higher than we ever thought imaginable. The impossible will become the improbable misunderstood by everyone else.
No matter how hard the situation, how difficult the climb, how precarious the endeavor, there is always that one little plant to help you, if you will just reach out for it. “A little more persistence, a little more effort, and what seemed a hopeless failure may turn into a glorious success…There is no defeat except within, no really insurmountable barrier save one’s own inherent weakness of purpose” (Quoted by Joseph B Wirthlin, “Never Give up,” LDS General Conference, Oct 1987).
So find your purpose! It will be the motivation to get you to make one last reach. As Dr. Viktor Frankl, a Jewish neurologist and psychiatrist who survived Auschwitz, said, “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’” (Man’s Search for Meaning).
So don’t read this post and ask, ‘How do I become better?’
Within you is a better you. Find it. Be it.
No matter how many books tell you how to get to the top of the mountain, they won’t ever help you unless you want to. You must close your eyes, see the vision of what’s at the top and find your own way up.
Work for that girl. Find that boy. Get that job. Gain that testimony.
You (yes, you) have limitless potential and when you believe that, you can do what is needed to achieve it.