Apr 2004 Issue
RE-DEFINING SUCCESS :
Last month, deep in the heart of Japan's winter. We were repulsed from the summit of Mt Fuji. After climbing 1100 vertical metres with large packs and in shin- deep snow in a single day, the slate-coloured mushroom shaped clouds refused to budge. With more bad weather predicted over the next two days - having extra time was academic. We hauled ourselves up the mountain again the next day only to confirm the worst.
Very recently, a client participant in a 25-metre abseil off a vertical rock face ' froze' at the final release point. She did not complete the descent.
What do these two different " failures" have in common and what can we learn from them?
On Fuji, one of my partners was also partially disabled and had never carried such a load over such a vertical distance in his life. Three hours before we reached our campsite he exclaimed he was " totally exhausted" - and yet an hour and half after the rest of us had reached the campsite, he plodded in. On the rock abseil, the client participant was a lady who had never done any rock climbing or vertical sports in her life. She was unfit a smoker. She had declared she would not ' attempt' it.
Yet minutes later, once I had helped her establish a different, positive mind state, she put on a harness and clambered up to the abseil point. Alas, there was a delay in her getting there and the intervening time caused her latent fears to rise once more.
In both cases, both my Fuji partner and the abseil participant had exceeded their expectations significantly. While the original objectives were not achieved, both achieved other objectives; possibly greater ones. In particular, a mindset that " cant" or " not possible" are merely states of mind. By being able to better control these meta-programs in our heads we can succeed in almost anything. My Japanese partner on the climb described the experience of the climb as follows:
"The Yoshida route we traced was the most popular route before the
Fuji-Subaru line opened. The centuries old wooden huts at 1st to 5th station are a kind of heritage which many people ignore. Deep snow made a quiet
and solemn atmosphere. I think it was the precious opportunity
which can rarely be experienced."
It is up to us to define what we want and re-define, where necessary what constitutes success.
And what about " failure"? There is no real or lasting failure - only feedback. And with this ' new' information, we can move ahead to reach greater heights.