In life, challenges are a given. Some, however, appear insurmountable that just the thought of facing them make you break out in cold sweat. The mountain before you is an obstacle but also the path on which you must travel otherwise you will remain stuck.
I have always thought of adversity as bespoke suits – different for each individual yet suited to them nonetheless. Have you ever seen someone go through some trials and you wonder how they get through? You admire their strength, resilience and determination from afar wishing you had some of their guts.
Will you believe me if I say that you do? You have grit and guts in ample measure.
Are you wondering if you read that right? Yes you did. Even if you haven’t realised it yet, you have what it takes to climb the mountain in front of you and reach the summit. I know because that is my life these days post-cancer diagnosis. Meeting challenge after challenge; I keep climbing the mountains ahead of me in spite of the pain and difficulties on the way. Once I have overcome a challenge; I know that I can do that again should the same issue arise in future.
“The ones who climb the mountains don’t wait for permission. They just start walking.” Trinity Bourne
If you are waiting for someone to give you permission to be the hero in your own story, that will be an endless wait. Today, as you are reading this, unchain yourself from whatever has kept you stuck. Reaching the mountain summit becomes a reality only if you keep climbing and don’t give up.
Here are three pointers that will help as you climb with the expectation of reaching the top. No matter what kind of difficulty you’re facing; all these will apply.
1. Believe in yourself
If you speak to any mountaineer who has scaled incredible heights, they will tell you that the first battle to be won is within. They have to believe that they have what it takes otherwise they are already defeated before the first step is taken. In the same vein, regardless of the challenge or trial you are facing, believe that you can overcome and you will come out stronger for having gone through the experience.
If you don’t believe in yourself, you will self-sabotage. Whilst it is good to be aware of your weaknesses, dwelling on them won’t get you anywhere. You have to be prepared to acknowledge and own your strengths in order to get ahead. It doesn’t matter how many people tell you what you are or aren’t; what matters is what you believe about yourself. You couldn’t have come this far in life without facing challenges – big or small. What are those qualities that stood you in good stead those times? Don’t reinvent the wheel. Start with those.
2. Prepare for stumbling or falling
Not quite what you were expecting from an inspirational post? Stick with me.
Anyone who tells you that reaching mountain summits is easy, is lying to you. Life in general isn’t always smooth-sailing. Just ask the richest people in the world – if they ‘re honest, they will tell you of the challenges they have faced and are still facing. No-one is immune from making mistakes or falling flat out on their faces. By their very nature, mountains don’t come with easy steps neither do adverse circumstances include manuals for perfect journeys.
Many people fall on this point because they feel that falling or stumbling makes them failures. These can even be compounded by the negative opinions of others. Let me make it clear to you: falling doesn’t make you a failure. If however you choose to stay stuck and you stop trying; you allow yourself to be defeated.
If you aren’t facing any challenges at the moment, keep this in mind for when you are. Don’t allow your setbacks to define you. Dust yourself off and keep going. If it means you have to change track, don’t let your pride get in the way. Do what is necessary to keep making progress.
3. Pay attention to the lessons of the climb
“The lessons of the climb are as important as reaching the mountain summit. Those you don’t take on board today, you may have to relearn at great cost tomorrow.” Bamidele Adenipekun
Difficulties by their nature are great teachers. The sad reality though is that a lot of people are so focused on the surmounting challenges that they totally miss the lessons of the process. There are two types of lessons that are crucial to pay attention to – the internal and the external lessons.
Internal lessons are the things that are revealed about you. If you think of challenging times as a refining process; you know that it shows the good and the bad. In the same way as precious metal is dealt with, ditch the bad and keep the treasure. Learning this lesson ensures that in future you don’t make the same mistakes.
External lessons have to do with the kind of people surrounding you. When life is brilliant and you’re riding on a high; a lot of people want to be associated with you. The converse is true when your life is turned upside down by challenges. It is said that in times of trial, you know who your true friends are. That is so true. You will have around you: commentators, critics, naysayers and truth-tellers. The only group of people who will do you good in the long-run are truth-tellers. By this I mean those who love you enough to correct you but still see the treasure in you. Only you can determine who around you belongs in each group.
No man is an island. The people you closely associate with will have an impact on your quest to overcome life’s challenges. Choose wisely.
Until the next time, be inspired to soar.