Overcoming Adversity & Daily Achievable Goals

Movies have effected and influenced the way I perceive life and my environment. One movie in particular that has has influenced me in regards to overcoming adversity and challenge is the doc, “Touching the Void”.

This film documents two young climbers, Joe Simpson and Simon Yates, who were the first to successfully ascend the peak of one of the tallest summits in Peru.

Both accomplished mountain climbers, they reached the summit without any difficulty, but a surprise snow storm on their descent is where things went down hill (no pun etc.,).

Both climbers get stuck in a severe snow storm where Joe Simpson shatters his leg and slides down a 150 feet embankment only to find himself hanging on to a line anchored by his partner who has no idea if he’s alive or dead. After a couple of hours Simon-thinking that Joe hadn’t survived-cuts his line and abandons his partner who falls into a dark, icy crevice.

Joe eventually had to crawl and traverse the Mt. Siula on a broken leg to try to get back to basecamp, which was a little under 4 miles. It was extremely steep and rocky, an effort to say the least under normal circumstances, but with a shattered leg impossible.

Wikipedia does a great job describing what Joe had to endure in order to get back to civilization:

Simpson, however, was still alive. He had survived the 150-foot fall despite his broken leg and had landed on a small ledge inside the crevasse. When Simpson regained consciousness, he discovered that the rope had been cut and realized that Yates would presume that he was dead. He therefore had to save himself. It was impossible for Simpson to climb up to the entrance of the crevasse (because of the overhanging ice and his broken leg). Therefore his only choice was to lower himself deeper into the crevasse and hope that there was another way out. After lowering himself, Simpson found another small entrance and climbed back onto the glacier via a steep snow slope.

From there, Simpson spent three days without food and with almost no water, crawling and hopping five miles back to their base camp…Exhausted and almost completely delirious, he reached base camp only a few hours before Yates intended to return to civilization.



There’s a scene in the documentary (see below) where Joe describes how he managed to crawl back to base camp:

This scene shaped how I approach any challenge that may seem daunting which is by attacking any challenge in small, measurable chunks. The only way that Joe was able to not be overcome by hopelessness or become discouraged was to set literal milestones, where he would scope out a rock 25 yards away and set a time horizon to reach this milestone in 20 minutes. If he even focused at any point beyond this manageable goal of 25 yards in 20 minutes the challenge would become to daunting

This works for people that are massively overweight, instead of focusing on the pages of Cosmopolitan at rail thin models, or at Hugh Jackman’s abs on the cover of Men’s Health, maybe we should be focusing on small measurable goals like 60 minutes on the elliptical instead of the end goal or outcome.

If you’re in massive debt, instead of looking at the bottom line, focus on what is within your control, and what you can do on a daily basis to curb spending and put together.

As an entrepreneur I’m guilty of scouring the pages of Crunchbase in awe of massive billion dollar exits of WhatsApp, Nest Labs or Instagram. Instead of focusing on these unicorns-which can be very distracting-maybe I should focus on what daily achievable goal I can set for myself today.