Celebrating your personal best!
What do you have today that you prayed for yesterday?
Isn’t it easy to be so hard on yourself. I have this stark memory of me walking down a Chicago sidewalk. It was a tough day for me. I was being negative. I was worrying about the practice we had not found yet, and the blogs that remained unwritten. I ruminated over how much more there was to achieve. And on that trip itself, I had achieved one of my biggest goals previously: becoming a speaker for the ADA Success Program. But instead of focusing on the achievement, my mind was on to the next thing: the next mountain which was left unconquered.
I was speaking to Senator Mark Udall, an amazing and incredible person regardless of your political views, and we started talking about climbing mountains. He is an avid mountain climber and his stories on the matter could entertain me for hours. It is enrapturing to hear him speak on the subject; his passion shines through with every word. He spoke about many different mountains he had climbed and I asked him, “What about Everest?’ He paused for a second and said he had attempted Everest but a snow storm had moved in and he was not able to summit. I asked how far they had gotten and he told me they were close enough to see the summit.
I thought about that. He had completed the training in entirety, months of teaching your body and your lungs to climb at that height. He had camped at basecamp and enjoyed all of the memories. He had experienced absolutely every single thing that any individual would experience who had “officially” summited Mt Everest. But, at least when speaking to random strangers like me, Everest is not a mountain he considers “climbed.” He doesn’t lead with it in conversations. So how important is summiting?
We set goals for ourselves and we work so hard to achieve those goals. But the reality is that those goals change constantly. They evolve. And sometimes, try as we might, reaching the particular goal we set may not be a possibility, but trying, having the experience of striving for that goal is a result in an of itself. But when we do not summit, in our minds, we do not succeed. Why?
When a young girl in middle school starts a campaign to raise canned food donations for the homeless, she may set a goal of 500 cans. If she manages to inspire her community to donate 450 cans in the set time, she has still mastered aspects of leadership, involvement and personal challenge. She has still fed countless hungry people. But how hard is it to call 450 cans a success when we said from the beginning, 500 cans was success. We do this all the time in our personal lives. Aiming towards high goals is not a bad thing. In fact, I will argue it is IMPERATIVE to success. BUT we also need to have the personal strength to be able to change our definitions of success and evolve with our accomplishments.
So the next time you reach your personal summit, take a moment and breath in some of that victory air. And the next time you stop just short of the summit… maybe a storm does not allow you to reach your peak, instead of writing this off as a failure, turn around and look down. You still climbed a mountain, even if it was not the one you intended to climb in the first place. Even in your moments of supposed failure, find your success and cherish it. It is a lesson we all need, me most of all.