“In 35 years of doing this sh%t, I’ve seen things that neither Science, nor Medicine, nor Jesus F*’n Christ could explain. Sh*t that will make your head spin. Absolute ‘No win’ scenarios that people walk away from. Impossible odds, and they survive. And here’s the deal folks, the one thing you need to know about this gig, we don’t save people’s lives. We don’t. If you think you’re here to be some hero and save people, you’re F%’n wrong. All we do here, our only function as a unit, is to provide that extra 10% people need in order to save themselves.”
This was a particularly impactful lesson from a veteran SaR instructor while going through my Mountain Rescue Basics class. It’s been 7 months since I heard him say this, and it still resonates with me daily.
“You’ll come across people stuck on the side of a mountain, 500ft in the air, who have damn near attached themselves to that rock with only their fingertips. They’ve been holding onto that cold rock for 5 hours, and they could easily hold on for another 5 hours, but the second you wrap that victim harness around their waist, they’ll crumple into your arms. Once they get that feeling of being saved, be ready to own them completely. “
The extra 10% for them was their rescuer. So, what’s your 10%?
“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close to success they were when they gave up” – Thomas Edison
Apply the wisdom to your life. How many times have you been close to ‘saving’ yourself, only to let go? Did you hold on 10 hours, or 10 seconds? Why did you let go?
Do or Die
Now imagine yourself in that grave scenario. You’re hanging onto the side of a mountain. You’ve got yourself completely “invested” in a risky situation. You’re scared, you don’t know how long you’ve been holding on but it feels like forever. You can’t go up, and you can’t go down. You’re at a crossroads and your mind is starting to play tricks. A thought enters your soul… you tell me which one you’re going to listen to.
#1 – Well, at least I came this far.’ Albeit a dire situation, I still did climb pretty far… I’ve accomplished quite a bit on this climb. I mean, at least I showed up. Most people would feel sorry for me. I tired, and I’ve climbed some stuff before anyways. This is far enough. I’m too uncomfortable, I’m too scared, too weak, and I have XYZ problems. This isn’t for me. Maybe even that thing the Scientist / Doctor / Jesus said is why I can’t do this. I have excuses as to why I can’t do this. I’ll just let go…
#2 – F*ck it, I’m doing this. Screw this mountain; it’s not taking me down. Neither Science, nor Medicine, nor Jesus has anything on me. I got napalm in my gut and I aint letting go, for whoever’s sake or whoever’s excuse. I came here to make this mountain my b%tch. Plenty of people have accomplished this or a helluva lot more, why not me? I’m a big, fat, shiny ball of awesomeness – Does this mountain know who I am?!?! Go time!
The Mountain I Fell Off
A few years ago, I fancied myself becoming an Internet Marketer. I read everything I could about it. I joined forums like WickedFire and contributed to several discussions. I printed out volumes of information on Landing Pages, Google Quality Score, etc. I started buying snazzy domains via proxy so nobody could track me. I even bought a special domain and installed Propser202 so I could watch all my traffic, clicks etc. in real time. I subscribed to 100s of RSS feeds from ‘Super Afilliates.’ I completely emersed myself in the Internet Marketing culture. Even set up several Excel sheets that I could use to further analyze my Internet Marketing data. I could see myself speaking at Affilite Summit in the future, I was gonna rock this market!
I never even started one Google Adwords campaign. I couldn’t start. I had completely paralyzed myself with too much information, and moreover, I didn’t want to spend money testing offers etc. I was too scared. It was too risky, too uncomfortable. Of the hundreds, maybe thousands of hours I had already committed into learning the industry, I wasn’t willing to spend even $100 to start testing something; I wasn’t willing to do the extra 10%. I let go of the mountain.
PJ’s, SEALS and Rangers
Ever see the training these guys go through? They get the sh%t kicked out of them. They get pushed to the brink of sanity, and they overcome. How do they overcome? They hold on. Watch interviews of these guys, they all say the training is mostly mental. You overcome the limitations your brain puts in front of you, and you succeed. Fear, pain, weakness… ignore it. Press forward and hold onto that mountain. For example, there’s an interview with an Air Force PJ talking about drowning during the dreaded water exercises – ‘Well, things just kinda go black and next thing you know you wake up on the side of the pool.’ In order to become a PJ, these guys get comfortable drowning. How’s that compared to your 10%?
My Next Climb
I really want to be a better endurance runner. I can run forever if I run .5 mile sections, mixed with 2-10second breaks. I average about a 9 minute mile this way. 9 minute miles aren’t gonna win me a trophy, but I think most would agree that’s not too bad. However, if I run 1.5 miles with no breaks, I’m pretty much tapped out. I don’t like that. I don’t want to run marathons, but I definitely think I should be able to do 10 miles no problem. Moreso, I’d really love to average a 7 minute mile. Even better, if I can whip myself into a sub 21 minute 3 Mile, I’d probably cry with joy.
I know what I need to do. The 10% for me will be to start surpassing my 1.5 mile plateau. It’s going to take lots of sweat, heavy breathing and who knows, maybe even some puking, but I’m going to crash forward and do it. It’s gonna totally suck, but sometimes you have to embrace the suck. Sometimes holding on sucks, but my rescue will come. I will live.
Executive Non-Mountain Summary
Darren Lacroix, a mentor and good friend is famous for saying ‘Always fall forward – because even though you fell, you’re still further than where you started.’
While falling is pretty much the complete opposite of the mountain analogy I’ve been using this entire post, Darren’s advice in it’s simplest form is completely solid. “Don’t quit.”
Quitting is easy. Easy is never as rewarding as hard. Whining is easy, sweat is hard. A little sweat and fear is good for your soul. So hold on, get sweaty, and be a story that confounds experts.
When they think back to what you’ve accomplished, neither Science, nor Medicine nor Jesus Christ will be able to explain it.