A story: In the 1920s, Sir Edmund Mallory led an expedition to try to conquer Mount Everest. The first expedition he led failed. So did the second. Then, with a team of the highest quality, all killed climbers, Mallory made a third attempt to reach the top of the legendary mountain. In spite of meticulous planning, excellent training, and carefully designed safety precautions, a natural disaster struck. An avalanche hit the mountain without warning and Mallory and most of his climbing team were killed.
When the few who survived returned to. England, they held a moving banquet to salute the great climbers who perished on Mallory’s final expedition. As the leader of the survivors stood up to acknowledge the applause for his fallen comrades, he looked around the hall at the framed pictures of Mallory and his companions who’d lost their lives on that last expedition. Then he turned his back to the crowd to face a huge picture of Mount Everest behind the banquet table. It loomed over the quests like a silent giant.
With tears streaming down his face, he addressed the mountain on behalf of Mallory and his fallen team. “I speak to you, Mount Everest,” he said, “in the name of all the brave men living and those yet unborn.”
He stopped a moment, then continued. “Mount Everest, you defeated us once, you defeated us twice; you defeated us three times. But Mount Everest, we shall someday defeat you, because you can’t get any bigger and we can!”
What a moving way to reframe what many would see as a failure! It reminds us that no matter how big the obstacle we face, it can spur us on to get “bigger” — and better, instead of bitter.
We get bigger and better when we use obstacles to fuel our growth.
We get bigger and better when we seek out ways to improve our craft.
We get bigger and better when ask for the help we need to change.
We get bigger and better when we let our belief in our work blossom.
No matter what the obstacle we face—difficult drafts, more revisions, rejections, life events that challenge our strength—there’s always a way to use them to spur us on to grow and improve. Let’s find that path as travel down it as we all s write on!