The meaning of NUMBER ‘17’
Last week I participated in an endurance event called ‘29029 Everesting’ at Stratton Mountain in Vermont. If you read the last BennettBlog you heard a little bit of the back story of this event. If you didn’t, the event has about 225 people that have 36 hours to climb up the mountain as many times as you can. If you reach 17 ascents you have climbed the vertical equivalent of Mt. Everest or 29,029 feet. It is not a race, its YOU vs. YOU. To give you an idea on the size of this challenge; the average marathon is 5 hours long, the average ironman is 12 hours long, this event is 36 hours long. People from all walks of life traveled to this Mountain with one common goal, to push their own physical and mental limits.
Like anything in business and in life, we need expectations or goals as people call them. My expectation was to finish the event in 24 hours or less, never stop moving (no breaks), not allow a negative word or thought in my mind or out of my mouth, and to say ONLY positive things to the people around me. It was a test but very much an experiment for me. Going into unchartered territory is always an experiment if you allow what you learn to be applied to your future. I did this to find out what I am capable of, both physically and mentally. To find out how and if my training and preparation would allow me to respond. And to have an experience that I can apply in my business and life for many years to come. The truth is any endurance event is a metaphor for business and life. The more you can withstand and the more you experience, the more you grow and the more you have to give.
So, let’s get to the outcome. After starting at 7am on Friday morning, I finished my final ascent at just past 6am on Saturday morning, 23 hours after starting. In the wake of freezing temperatures, deep mud, blowing winds, rain, and snow, none of these external challenges mattered. Just like your challenges in business really don’t matter. The only thing that matters is the outcome and how you endure. If you allow the challenges to control your pace and approach you will fail before you have given yourself a chance to succeed. If I let my cold feet stop me, I would have quit within the first 300 feet. My first 3 ascents I hiked with a former Navy Seal. One of his mantras in life is not to give your pain a voice. The same holds true in business. You can replace pain with challenge or adversity or negativity.
After my initial 10 climbs, people started to go turn in for a couple hours sleep, the mountain got quiet, the temperature dropped, it got really dark and in the wake of this, I became immersed in a hyper-focused state that I had never experienced before in life. I could have just as easily gone the other way, turned in for a couple hours. That was my ‘moment’, the script has already been written, the “expectation” was set. There was NO WAY I was going to stop and, with a grin on my face, I pushed forward, all night, alone. As I have been processing the event and the relation to my business, I realize that with such focus and preparation you should expect this. If you are negotiating to acquire a property or brokering a deal, it will take time and effort. There are highs and lows, but you SHOULD see the outcome of that transaction as successful before it happens. You should believe with every fiber in your body that you CAN and you WILL secure the outcome you want. You shouldn’t be surprised by a successful outcome. It is not overconfidence; it is endurance confidence.
I also realize that while I truly believed before the event started that I would reach my expectation of 17 ascents non-stop, the fact that I did it was a manifestation of the effort and mindset behind it. One of the co-founders of this event, Jesse Itzler said to me after the event “the bar has been raised”. What we are capable of is bigger than what we are doing. Maybe it is raising the bar of my Company’s revenue, strengthening my relationship with my children and wife, or just pushing new limits of growth. This was not a singular event; no endurance event is.
In everything we do in business and life the expectations I mentioned earlier usually have “add-ons”. Things that you take away from an experience that you didn’t see coming or expect to surface. For me, it was the optimal humanity and interaction with the other participants. Everyone was leveled-up by the mountain. The highly successful CEO, the former Navy Seal, the former NFL Player, and mother-daughter team were all equal. In a world of false human measurements, it was gratifying, rewarding, and humbling, to see that when we are faced with adversity, we are all equal. It doesn’t matter what your net worth is or the car you drive or house you live in. We are all possible of achieving great things. And all capable of doing more. My ‘add-on’ was perhaps the best part for me. Do not allow pre-conditioned expectations of societal norms blind you from the reality of what is occurring in front of you. Stay in the moment, embrace the situation. Often there is something special happening right in front of us. In order to really see this, you must remain present.
Marc Hodulich, another Co-Founder of this event said it best when he said there are 2 possible outcomes to this event; you achieve your goal, or you walk away having given everything you had trying to achieve your goal. I did both. And you can do too.
Follow me on Instagram @Tylerobennett to hear more about this journey