How to Succeed Under Difficult Circumstances

Be Passionate About What You Do 

In climbing your mountain, you may find myself scared of taking risks, scared of failure. What gets me over fear is passion. In business it helps if you enjoy your product and the service you are offering.  

In The Science of Getting Rich (1910) Wallace D. Wattles said: 

 “You can get rich in ANY business. It will be EASIER in a vocation for which you have talents. But you CAN succeed in any vocation, for you can develop any talent. You will get rich if you do that for which you are best fitted, but you will get rich most satisfactory if you do that which you WANT.” 

If your job has one, figure out what in the job description you have a passion for and excel at that. No one does everything in a job description. Everyone goes at it from a different angle.  Almost everyone if they are competent, can do most things fairly well. You can, therefore, do everything in a job description and be mediocre, or you can do some things exceedingly well and excel. 

Expect a Few Bumps 

An obstacle is an inspiration. A Pioneer is an Artist - Daniel Isle Sky 

The difference between people that succeed and fail is those who succeed not only understand that they will encounter challenges, they expect them. When they get to a bump they know how to make the decision to continue. They made it before they got started.  

I expect going into a climb to be uncomfortable. When I get to a bump I feel it’s what I signed up for. It may not be ideal, but to get to my objective, I understand it’s what I’m going to have to do. Most hikers filter drinking water to remove dirt and bacteria. Where I climb, water filters clog. I use treatment tablets to kill the bacteria and drink what ever else in the water. On one climb the only water was a green, stagnant, pool with frogs. My choices were to drink the water or abandon my climb. I remembered that environmentalists say frogs are a good method for assessing how polluted water is. If it’s good enough for frogs, it’s good enough for me. 

For those who have accepted they are going to have adversity, it makes it easier for when they get to the green, moldy water. They made the decision to drink it when they left home. 

I once had a big gig at the town's annual event. It rained the night before and the P.A that was supposed to be available got wet. The staff were trying to dry the speakers out with a hair dryer when I arrived. There was no electrical power at all that I could use. I grabbed my small, battery-powered amp from my truck, placed it at the front of the stage and did the gig.


Those that are successful are not lucky. When they see an opportunity they act. To succeed you must take action. Some self-help books teach that all you need to do is think positive thoughts and you will get what you want. That’s wishful dreaming. You must do something today to start moving towards your goal. If I only thought about climbing a mountain, and never stepped foot on it, I would not reach the top. I have to prepare by packing the adequate supplies and when I get there I have to begin, one step at a time, an effort to climb to the top.  

Believe in Yourself 

I’m looking for a lot of men who have an infinite capacity to not know what can’t be done  - Henry Ford, Ford Motor Company 

Believe it can be done, believe you can do it, and have faith.  

In 100 Ways to Motivate Yourself, author Steve Chandler writes about interviewing Arnold Schwarzenegger. It was 1976 and Arnold was working on the movie Stay Hungry. No one in the restaurant they had lunch recognized Arnold. Steve asked Arnold, “Now that you have retired from body building, what are you doing to do next?” Arnold replied, “I’m going to be the number-one box office star in all of Hollywood.” Steve asked him how he planned to do that, and Arnold replied, “It’s the same process I use in body- building. What you do is create a vision for who you want to be, and then live into that picture, as if it were already true.” (100 Ways to Motivate Yourself, Steve Chandler, Career Press, 1996.) 

Fear Just Means to Think Twice. It Should Not Stop You. 

Just when the caterpillar thought the world was ending he changed into a butterfly. 

Fear is healthy. It’s telling you to pause and think things through. It might stop you for a moment. It should not stop you from moving ahead if you are passionate about what you are doing, have confidence, and believe in your team. 

What If 

Constantly wondering what if, is one of the best things to have in climbing, business, and personal affairs: what if what I am I doing isn’t good enough? I didn’t do that, should I? What is my competitor thinking and doing? Don’t stop thinking. It’s helpful to be obsessive compulsive with the question, “Am I doing everything I can?” 

When climbing I’m always thinking, what if I this doesn’t work? What if I can’t get to the top this way? I am constantly looking for other ways to get to the top, and thinking of how I will get down if it becomes too dangerous to continue. That way, no matter where I am, I am able to remain confident. If you’re over confident you won’t have these kinds of thoughts and may find yourself stuck and afraid to continue when the curve ball arrives. Always be thinking of options and analyzing how to do something better and different. here’s something to be said about lying awake at night, thinking.  

Wondering “what if” is different from worrying. To worry means to have stress about what might happen. Those who worry are more concerned about impending doom than success. They dwell on their troubles, not what actions they can take to move ahead and to get out of them. Constantly be thinking new thoughts about how to solve a problem, confident that one of them will work. Understand that there’s no need to worry, as you will find a way, as long as you keep an open mind and don’t stop thinking. 

Trust the Heart to Work with the Head 

There comes a leap in consciousness, call it intuition or what you will, and the solution comes to you, and you don’t know how or why - Albert Einstein 

I have a feeling I call getting a green light. When it seems dangerous and irrational, but my gut tells me it’s OK, I put the pedal to the metal and continue. Similarly, I turn around while climbing when my gut tells me to, even when there doesn’t appear to be a logical reason to do so. It’s one of the reasons after thirty years of climbing, I’ve never had a serious accident while climbing dozens of mountains that no one had ever climbed before. 

Be Flexible 

Adventure is allowing the unexpected to happen. How can there be an adventure if you use a guidebook to arrange everything beforehand - Richard Aldington 

If you want to be successful, think on your feet and be willing to change course. Change the script as needed. If you are too sure of yourself, your approach might be, “Well this is what’s going to work.” You might start something and not think twice. And then the curve ball hits. Few things end the way they start. Every journey requires some tweaking along the way.

I often need to take a different path to finish what I started to reach the top. I still get to the top. In many cases if I had said, “This is the way I am going, and I’m not going to deviate,” I might have died climbing. Understand going into something that you may to have to deviate. Like following a map in the mountains, your situation may not agree with your expectations. You may have thought you were going to go up, but need to make a left turn to avoid an obstacle first. Be willing to improvise and adapt. Expect to have to do these things from the moment you start. 

If You Keep Going You Will Get There. 

Everyone’s thinking of the destination, but the journey is the destination. Why would you keep waiting for it to get there, when you can enjoy the space to get there. Maybe once you get there it’s boring... maybe it’s the end. Just getting there is the wonderful part - Donovan (I love this quote of his).

Often the way to the top only becomes visible when you get close. Unless you are stopped dead in your tracks, have faith and keep going. Trust that everything is going to be OK, not because you have blind faith, rather because you are prepared and have confidence in your judgements, talent, and decisions. 

Be Thankful 

I give thanks for the opportunity to climb mountains safely and for my talent to play and sing. It can be the little things, like telling your kids and spouse you love them in the morning.

Leave a comment