I Can’t Really Do This Can I?

Nice Attitude, That Will Get You Places

(that you don’t want to be)

Our natural traits of questioning and doubting ourselves can help us avoid one of the major things we face in life: risk. That risk-avoidance can be a lifesaver. It keeps us from some of the dangers of the world that could be our undoing. It keeps us from getting too close to a cliff’s edge. It can help us make the choice for taking a well lit street, rather than the shortcut through the dark alley. It keeps us from coming face to face with some of our worst fears. But those traits, while very useful at times- especially when evaluating our steps and choices as a Self-Recruiter, will also hold us back when taking on a new and challenging role for ourselves as advisor, counselor, and motivator in the Self-Recruiter process. Yes, we need to question and doubt at every step of the way to be sure that our selections and choices allow for the best possible chance of success. But we mustn’t allow that questioning and doubt to erode our fortitude for taking on the daunting challenges set forth by this book.

Though I did not overly challenge myself with sports and those kinds of competitions as a child, once out in the world, I did discover a strong love for the outdoors. I grew to love camping and hiking and just getting away from it all in nature. It’s a wonderful antidote to what ails in the modern world. One of my favorite places to visit is Yosemite. If you have not made it there for a visit, it must be added to your list of must-sees. Though a much larger park than most people think, the area most people visualize and associate with Yosemite is just a small valley within the park. It has a single road in, which loops the valley and, when done with your visit, it loops you back out through the same tunnel which is cut straight through the mountain. Be forewarned, the area of roadway just after exiting the tunnel and entering the valley is one that is home to many a fender-bender. The view is so astounding and unexpected to our minds, that many a driver has seemed to have forgotten that they are still behind the wheel driving a vehicle and, well you can imagine the results. When standing there on the valley floor, which is only about a mile wide, though several miles long, you are surrounded on three sides by nearly sheer cliffs rising a mile or more straight upward. The trees are enormously tall, yet seem like miniatures on a model against the backdrop of the sights and waterfalls rising toward the heavens. It really does look like a painting or artificial backdrop that might be found in a photo studio somewhere, especially once you step into the shot.

A quick Google search will return many pictures with the valley’s most prominent features. The most photographed of which is probably a massive, sold monolith of granite, sheered off on one side, appropriately named Half Dome. My favorite camp area sits near the back of the valley at its base and next to the winding river. It’s an inspiring and awesome sight to behold. Since my very first visit, I had such a strong desire to be one of the relatively few that made it all the way to the top. Over 8,800 feet high, and directly above my campsite. In order to get there, you have to hike about nine miles each way, and that was thousands of feet going up, and thousands of feet coming back down. No supplies, food, water or porta-potties along the way. But, who was I kidding, I was not ‘that kind’ of outdoor guy. I think it was on my third visit where I undertook this challenge. It involved overcoming many a warning stating that the average person could never accomplish this feat in a single day and must plan for camping in the wilderness en route along the way, if they were to be successful. It also involved ignoring the warnings of bears and mountain lions in the area meant to trigger the risk-avoidance in us all. And, of course, those animals are really there, it’s their habitat after all. If you ever doubt that point, the park service has a nice display of a car with its windows smashed out and its door ripped off by a hungry local that had spotted a cooler of food sitting on the back seat, instead of in the bear-proof storage lockers, as recommended.

Fear can be a wonderful thing.

It can be a great motivator to be our best selves (thanks again, Jack) or it can keep us from achieving our goals. Determined to achieve my goal, I did all the research and planning that I could do. I concluded that to make it in a single day and arrive back at my campsite before sunset, I would need to head out at about four in the morning, in the dark. Until you actually try hiking and climbing all those thousands of feet over the course of nine miles toward some goal, you really can’t be prepared for just how taxing and strenuous that it can be. So yes, I had unbelievable burning sensations throughout my body for the next 13 hours that my round trip ended up taking. I had decided that I was going to make it, or quite possibly, die trying. Once you focus in on that kind of determination, you will be amazed at what that focus will help you achieve.

Maybe because of just how difficult I expected the journey to be, along with how determined I was, it ended up being easier than expected to near the base, and the final 900 feet, of my challenge to the top of Half Dome. As I grew closer and closer to the base, the close-up of the Dome finally came into view. My heart nearly stopped as if facing a precipice on the edge of eternity, for the last of the challenge was a near vertical assent. Its surface is smooth with nothing to hang onto. The park service had drilled holes deep into the rock’s face and every Spring they insert long poles into the side of Half Dome and connect them together with a steel cable forming some sort of pathway and last-ditch attempt at safety. Every few feet of assent, you will find a small two-by-four nailed into the smooth surface of the rock in an effort to somehow allow your boots to  dig in and hang on. After putting on the prerequisite leather gloves to protect against the steel cables, I began my four appendage climb. If you are to make it more than a few feet, you must climb with both your legs and your arms in a very coordinated effort. Did I mention yet that this path, carrying what had appeared from only a slight distance away to be ants moving upward, and which was now disappearing over the ever-so-slightly curved slope above -was intended for two way traffic!? One slip, one false step and not only would my goal be dashed. Half way up this monster I had found myself actually crouched with my feet firmly residing on the side of one of those poles sticking out from the granite, my arms clinging to the steel cable now just above my head, and with my eyes closed recounting the wonders of my life as my heart pounded in pain within my chest. Breath. Breath. Breath. I thought about loosening one hand to reach into a pocket for an anti-anxiety pill. Maybe not, probably not a good idea to be relaxed when my life is in danger. I had accomplished and done most of what I had set out to do: I was on Half Dome, if not at its top. As evidenced by my death grip on the cable at that moment, I surely had in fact risked my very life to achieve my dream. I could just slip back down and still hold my head up high. But with nothing more to lose, I mustered the strength of character and might and forced my way against the rock to its very top. It was like the explosion of energy from within the sun. Shaking violently, crying tears of joy, wanting to throw up, and truly feeling what it means to be alive for the first time in my life, I knew that nothing ever again could stop me.

The challenges I have laid down for you in this book may be equally scary to you.

Trust and have faith in yourself.

Work and develop your abilities as a Self-Recruiter, and never shy away from the most difficult and unappetizing pieces, and you could end up in the place you might never have expected: the top.

Congratulations again,

and now get to work!

John Crant

Author, Career Coach & Speaker
on Job Search and Career Management

© John Crant

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