"I can’t go on. I’m not gonna make it."
Those were the disheartening words coming from my one of my climbing partners as we were half way up the 3,000 foot El Capitan in Yosemite National Park.
As you may recall, a couple years ago I wrote about climbing the Nose route of El Cap for the first time. It was a huge accomplishment for me to climb that route in three days.
Now we were attempting to climb the Nose in less than 24 hours. This was a big stretch for me as it was only my second time on this climb. It was a huge stretch for Dan because this was his first time on the route.
Dan was "bonking." Basically, his body ran out of energy from not having enough food in his system. We planned to finish one more pitch and then rappel back down to the ground 2,000 feet below us. Dan felt defeated, frustrated and disappointed.
Then, as he was climbing what we thought would be our final pitch of the day, Dan turned himself around. He had a powerful conversation with himself about not giving up.
He ate some food, drank some water, and shifted his motivation into high gear. He told himself not to give up. He reminded himself of how much planning, training and effort he had put in to accomplish this big goal.
Then he yelled out,
"I’m going to make it! Let’s keep going! I got my second wind."
Later, after sixteen hours of non-stop climbing, we stood on top of El Cap yelling out with joy as we celebrated the accomplishment of a lifetime goal.
What do you do when the going gets tough?
I’ve seen my coaching clients overcome enormous obstacles and achieve incredible success. I’ve also read and heard dozens of stories about people who kept going even when the going got tough.
Like Dr. Seuss, whose first children’s book was rejected by twenty-three publishers. The twenty-fourth publisher sold over six million copies and Dr. Seuss had a positive affect on many children around the world.
Or Albert Einstein, whose Ph.D. dissertation was rejected by the University of Bern because it was "irrelevant and fanciful."
Or Michael Jordan, who was cut from his high school basketball team. But he didn’t give up. He went on to become one of the greatest basketball players of all time.
Yes, these amazing individuals experienced disappointment. But they were not defeated. They kept going even when things got tough.
It’s important for us to remember that obstacles, disappointment, and challenges might try to get in the way of our most important goals. It’s even more important to remember that we have the choice to focus on the problem or focus on what’s possible…and keep going.