Monday, September 28, 2009

Moments of Insight into Personal Potential

In my few years there have been moments where I have done something that I was not sure I would be able to do. The moments when you realize you are in over your head, but actually you come through pretty well. After these times you feel on top of the world and you dream big dreams. This is when you do something better, or even way better than you expected to do. This is when you achieve more halfway through the project than you thought you would achieve during the whole project. This is when you know you have the potential to be amazing.

In a sense these are moments of foreshadowing. Snippets of high performance. A glimpse into who you could be if you keep working at it. Let me give an example from my own life.

When I was 16 years old I had about 30 nights of backpacking under my belt up to elevations of 11,700. I had hiked a few hundred miles already at that point in my life. My family had a sort of mini-reunion out in Arizona at my grandparents timeshare. My family was planning to drive back to Kansas through Utah and Colorado. The internet was just beginning to be used regularly and I had discovered several websites that talked about these 14,000 foot tall mountains in Colorado. I decided that I would like to climb one. Not long after that I decided that if I was going to spend a whole day at it I should try to climb two. It just so happens that the two highest mountains in Colorado are "right next" to each other. Sure there was a valley in the middle but the mileage looked low.

Fast forward two months to July when my dad dropped me off at 3:30 AM on the middle of a dirt road between the two behemoths. I lost the trail in the predawn hours and ended up on "South Massive" elevation 14,132 at 7 AM. This false summit is 300 feet below and half a mile south of the true summit. I had intended to get there at 6 AM so I decided to skip going for the real summit and head over to Mt. Elbert. Bushwacking up the second mountain was harder. There was hail and lightning. When I arrived at treeline the situation was not positive. Fortunately the hail and lightning stopped. On a flat section around 13,500 I managed to hike only half a mile in one hour without even stopping. On the final summit cone I managed to sleep for exactly 20 minutes just sitting on a rock. When I summitted at 3:00 PM there was a couple nice enough to give me a Cliff bar as I had run out of food hours ago. My original estimate of getting back to the car was 12-4 PM and I still had nine miles to hike. I ran down part of the way every time it was steep enough that I just had to lift my legs. I got to the parking lot at 5 PM and then went right past it because my family was out searching for me. At six while I was hiking back to Twin Lakes to our motel across private property my dad drove past and saw me and finally 14.5 hours after starting I was done.

Who would guess that six years later I would be doing hanging belays on the Diamond or that seven years later I would spend seven weeks in Pakistan trying to climb an 8000 meter mountain and running at 13,000 feet? The more I think about it, and believe me I think about that day often, the more I think how crazy it was.

The same fundamental occurrence happens in all aspects of life wether that is getting the highest score on a test or fixing a broken door. You do not have to be the best in the world at anything because you are already the best you in the world. The point is that everyone has something they can do well. The more you practice and work on that ability the better you become. Wasting your gifts and talents is not helping anyone.

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