Climb Your Mountain – Turn Defeat Into Victory

Tom Whittaker and Everest

A Footprint On Everest

There’s an old cliche that goes, ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’.

It’s a phrase often employed by well-meaning friends and family as a ‘pick-you-up’ when they try to help you feel better about something that has gone pear-shaped.

The trouble is that it is often delivered with a smug, omniescent smirk that far from making you feel better, merely makes you want to give your advisor a good slap!

Nevertheless, there is some truth to the maxim.

We often learn more from the things that don’t go to plan than from the ones that do, perhaps one of the biggest lessons being that of persistence in the pursuit of our goals.

Tom Whittaker was a mountaineer whose life could easily have been wrecked in the car accident that crushed his leg, courtesy of a drunk driver in 1979, which led to the amputation of his right foot.

No doubt he must have felt at times like his life was destroyed. His passion was climbing and many thought that had been taken away from him.

Tom Whittaker crosses a glacier

Tom crosses the ladder of death

Yet by 1989 he made his first attempt to climb Mount Everest. His friend, who had managed to complete a climb gave him a stone he had picked up near the summit and challenged Tom to put it back. Defeated twice by the extreme conditions, Tom finally conquered the mountain in an expedition in 1998, despite suffering altitude sickness; despite reaching almost to the summit and having to descend back to basecamp to recover; despite having to wait for bad weather to clear on the final ascent; and despite having one artificial leg.

Tom returned the stone and brought another back for his friend from the ‘roof of the world’.

The documentary, ‘A Footprint on Everest’ was presented on Australian TV by Jim Waley on the ‘Sunday’ programme. With absolutely breathtaking scenery and a heartwarming tale, it won the Teddy Roosevelt Award for Best Adventure Documentary. It has now aired in over 150 countries.

“In today’s world we are all adventurers and we are all dreamers. Climbing to the summit of Mount Everest with an artificial foot is the physical and symbolic manifestation of overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds to achieve a dream. It is also the supreme act of persistence and courage.”

Jim Rennie

These extracts are courtesy of Tom’s personal blogging website*.

You Can If You Think You Can

You Can If You Think You Can

In the book, ‘The Millionaire Next Door’ the authors talk about the inevitability of adversity.

“You can’t hide from adversity. You can’t hide your children from life’s ups and downs. The ones who achieve do so by conquering obstacles,…even from their childhood days.

Thomas J Stanley & William D Danko (from “The Millionaire Next Door”)

We will all have bad days; we will all stumble and fall; we will all have days when we wonder if it’s all worth it; we will all feel, “Why does this happen to me?”

Knowing that everyone else feels this way doesn’t lessen your own problems or make them disappear. Knowing that there are always millions of other people who have far worse problems with which to contend than you do, may help, but usually doesn’t.

For example, as I sit here writing this, I have a sore heel. Knowing that someone else is lying in hospital with a broken leg might make me realise that things could be worse, and that’s certainly a great thought process to adopt as a coping mechanism, but it doesn’t stop my heel hurting.

We would all like to protect our families from adversity – it’s what we do. Sometimes, however, we might actually be doing them a dis-service.

Stanley and Danko studied the habits of numerous self-made millionaires to see if they had anything extra, a special something, that we lesser mortals missed out on during our creation.

Of course there are at least a book’s worth of traits and habits, which is why it’s well worth reading, however a key ingredient is the way that these successful people view adversity.

Andrew Matthews 'I feel great'

Andrew Matthews 'I Feel Great' cartoon

When things go wrong, they look at the positives as well as the negatives from the apparent disaster.

“What positives?”, you might ask, as you look down at your shattered leg in the hospital bed, for example.

Then six months later as you marry the pretty nurse you met in the hospital, you say “It still hurt like hell but thank goodness I broke my leg or I wouldn’t have met Suzy!”

Ok, it could be destiny or a quirk of fate, but how many times have you thought something was one of the worst things that ever happened to you, like losing a job, suffering a relationship break up etc only to find in due course that this was in fact a turning point that opened the doors to new and better experiences.

Look at Things from a different angle

Look at things from a different angle

A few years ago I attended a course where I learned a way of looking at the world called the ‘Qantum Collapse Process’. To summarise a weekend workshop in a few words, when something ‘bad’ happens, ask yourself what the ‘good’ or ‘potential good’ is in that situation. My teacher continued on to instruct that we should then ask alternately, “What is bad about that?” and “What is good about that?” until we have exhausted all the angles from which to view the apparent adversity.

It’s an interesting technique and it does change the way you perceive apparent failures and adversities.

Maybe that’s how you’ll find your personal pot of gold (or non-monetary equivalent!)

So, next time something seemingly bad happens, ask yourself if a man with one leg can climb the highest mountain in the world, what can you, with all of your skills and determination, do?

*Source information” & cartoon by Andrew Matthews in his ‘highly recommended’ book, ‘Being Happy’.


Tony the Tiger!

Tony says:Throughout this website you’ll find examples of people who have battled the odds and turned defeat and disappointment into victory and triumph. If you’re not where you’d like to be in life, there may be some solutions for you on my site.

Whether your challenge is a personal battle, a business problem or an issue to do with work/life balance, I am blessed to be surrounded by a network of successful business owners and advisers and a team of great friends. Feel free to drop me a line if you’d like to improve your situation.”

About Tony Inman

If you are looking for a coach, mentor or consultant to help you strategise the way you want your life to be and to build your business or develop your career to achieve that vision, then Tony Inman is the man to call.
With over 34 years management experience in numerous companies in Europe and Australia, including many of his own businesses, Tony has coached thousands of staff and hundreds of business owners and executives to set new goals, overcome obstacles or limiting beliefs and create and achieve new dreams.
Today Tony is a published author and presenter on the topics of personal and business growth. He is an incorrigible entrepreneur as well as a business and lifestyle coach, consultant and mentor.

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