Why you need to conquer your greatest challenge

Why challenges matter

Mountain climbing movies always fascinated me as a child. I was never a climber myself but I could always see the relevance of climbing as a metaphor for setting and conquering my goals.

Earlier this year my girlfriend and I went to watch Everest; which was a movie but it was based on a true story -at least to some degree. One of the things that really impressed me about climbers in the movie was their sheer determination to make the peak, regardless of setbacks. People were so determined to conquer Everest they died in the process.

I noticed the climbers in the movie would go up to new heights and then descend. I remember thinking such slow progress would be frustrating for them. Frustrated or not; they kept climbing.

I had limited understanding as I watched the movie, however, I now understand that by climbing up and back down they were becoming acclimatized i.e. adjusting to the conditions of the mountain. Experienced climbers would understand there are extreme dangers for climbing straight up something as grand as Everest if your body is not ready.

Once again I find myself drawing parallels between what I observed in the movie and all the worthwhile goals I have pursued in my own life. I believe we can learn something from these mountaineers about setting goals and the grit it takes to achieve them.

First; break down your biggest goals into bite sized pieces. Much like the climbers, who climb a mountain in stages, I have always broken goals down into smaller steps. Consider your own goals in the same way.

My academic achievements were always broken into semesters and even further into subjects. My fitness goals have always been pursued in stages. If you want to run a marathon one day in the future you must first be able to run for one mile. Remember, any worthwhile goal will be a challenge for you.

Second, you will always find obstacles to achieving any worthwhile goal. During the climb these people experienced peaks, valleys, storms, avalanches and even health problems. Similarly any goal in life will throw challenges at you. Sometimes you just need to wait the storm out.

Third, focus intensely on your goal to improve our chances of success. I noticed each of the climbers had great focus. All of their training, study, equipment, thoughts and actions were aimed at one thing. They wanted to reach the summit of Everest.

Finally, I believe there is no sweeter success than the one you truly believe you deserve. I noticed the people who reached the peak had a look of total euphoria. I have set my own goals in life and at many times started to have serious doubts about my ability. On more than one occasion I have achieved those very same goals. Looking back, feeling victorious, I say to myself, “I have earned this. I deserve to be here.”

I am not unique in that regard. I have encountered people in all walks of life that experience self doubt at some point or face challenges greater than what I could ever imagine. I am often in awe of them when I see what they have achieved.

I have also seen people give up rather easily because that’s what they do every time things get tough. Remember; if your goal was easy everyone would have done it. Then it would not feel like much of an achievement when you do it; nor would it feel important or special.

I will leave you with one final question asked by Robert H Schuller, which I now ask of you. “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?”


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