Taking the hits

Broken ski in the middle of Antarctica

Broken ski in the middle of Antarctica

One day, you’ll be out there 150 miles in the middle of nowhere.  You’ll have no one with you.

Help is in another time zone and you’re having a tough go of it.  And, if you call for help to come in, you’re done.  You’re going home because you voted yourself off the island.  You put years into what you are doing and invested your entire life savings.  Every day, your mind and your body tells you that you should just quit and go home.

“It’s easier, it’s okay, you don’t really have to push through this.  Everyone will understand and no one will blame you.”

But no!  You keep pressing on, even when your mind and body are failing you.  You know that if you just take one more step toward your goal, you’ll be that much closer to making it.  All you just need to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Then, when you think you’re just keeping yourself together and making progress, it happens.  Something breaks.  Maybe your equipment, maybe your body, maybe someone you love.  And now what?  Something you were absolutely reliant on has failed you.  You break down and cry because you know what this means.  It means what you’ve worked for a decade of your life is going down the drain.

Or is it?

Broken ski in the snow

Broken ski in the snow

So, you get yourself up and evaluate what you have left to work with.  Yes, now it’s going to be even more difficult.  Yes, you thought it was hard before.  And life just delivered a near knock-out blow.  You’re on your knees wailing and making deals to try and get out of it.  Yet, there you are, by yourself.  In the biggest, badest wilderness on Earth.  Or, maybe in your office.  Wherever you are, it will happen.  And it will not be the first time.

This is decision time.  You can call it quits, pack it in, and go home.  You can decide that it’s not worth the effort.  Why are you here in the first place?  Maybe you’re just holding on for retirement.  Just a few more, what, years?  Decades?

What happens when the tough times pass and things settle down, when things aren’t as mean anymore?  There you will be, after quitting.  And the opportunity passes by.  And, others will pass you by.  And you will start to look back and start thinking, “That wasn’t so tough.  I could’ve kept going.  Why did I quit?”  That’s it, you are home and you’ll never have the chance like it again.

Do you want to be laying there, waiting to go to sleep at night, knowing that you didn’t do your absolute all?  How often is the thought of giving up going to haunt you for the rest of your life?  Will you be proud of giving up?  Will you be able to tell your friends, family, and children that, “Yes, it was okay that I gave up.  It was too hard.”

Someone else will find a way to do it.  They stayed up later at night.  They kept going even when their skis broke.  They kept walking.

Yes, the greatest have failed countless times.  Michael Jordan missed 26 game winners.

Lone Sastrugi

Lone Sastrugi

And yet, he was the greatest of his generation.  How can someone miss that many important shots and still be that great?

Because he didn’t quit.  He got up, day after day, and kept grinding it out.  He failed 1000’s of times.  But he succeeded 100 times that.  If you take the easy way out, giving it the old college try, you will fail.  And then you’ll see someone else succeed in your place.

Do you want that as a memory to look back on?  No!  You need to get up, you want to make good on what you wanted to do.  But the only way to do that is to keep coming back to the game.

In Antarctica, my skis broke on my sleds and I knew that making my round trip was over.  And yet I didn’t give up.  I knelt there by my dead sled, wailing, knowing that things had not been going well and now they were going to get worse.  And there was no one to pat my shoulder and tell me it was okay.  I only had me to buck up, tear the thing apart, and keep going.  I couldn’t just stop, set up my tent and call for a pickup.  I knew that I’d have to think and dream about that for the rest of my life.

For me, giving up is the worst nightmare.  Freddy has nothing on the quitting nightmare.

I might get beaten.  I’ve lost a lot in the past and I know I’ll lose more in the future.  But I also know that I’m going to keep coming back.  I’m going to get knocked down.  It’s not how many times you get knocked down but how many times I get up.

You will never regret getting up one more time.