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What’s Holding You Back?


Many years ago, I had the privilege of taking 240 insurance brokers and their spouses on a reward trip to Portugal. The speaker I brought along for the conference was Lawrie Skreslet. 

He told a story that really stuck with me and many others in the audience. Here it is, as I remember it:

At the age of 16, he was in trouble with his parents and the police, his teachers were giving up on him, and his friends no longer wanted to hang out with him. He quit school and joined Outward Bound, then joined the Merchant Marines.

Ten years later, he was the first Canadian to stand on the summit of Mount Everest. 

What Was Lawrie’s Most Profound Learning on the Mountain?

With three days of climbing weather left before the monsoon season started and made it suicidal to be on Mount Everest, Lawrie and his team were within 3,000 feet of the summit. Camped in for the night, they made the decision to strike out for the summit the next day.

In the morning, the team set out. Part way into the journey they came to an outcropping of rock that blocked their way to the summit.

Their choices were to find a way to get past this outcropping of rock OR to return to their camp and attempt the climb the next day. The second option meant that they only had one more chance after tomorrow or their climb would be a failure.

Lawrie found a crack in the outcropping of rock. If he put resin on his hand and stuck in firmly in the crack, he could hold his entire body weight on one arm. The drop to the valley floor below was over 1,000 feet… the consequences of failure were severe to say the least!

Lawrie stuck his hand in the crack and began to swing his legs like a pendulum until he could get his feet into the rock above. He put a piton in the rock and threaded rope through it, thereby getting his entire team past the rock.

Lawrie and his team stood on the summit of Everest later that day.

So what happened to this young man who 10 years earlier had left Canada feeling like a total failure to everyone who mattered?

He told us that day on the mountain he took off the cage that had held him back for all those years – the cage made of negative comments from his parents, his teachers, the police, and many others. 

On that day on the side of the mountain, he realized a dream. He realized that he could be so much more if he could only believe in himself.

Mount EverestAsk Yourself

What is holding you back? 

What voices are you hearing when you think you might want to try to reach for your dream?

Remember the words of Henry Ford:  “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right!” 

>> Want to know how to motivate your employees and remove the barriers holding them back? Contact us now!

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Written by Dwight Lacey

Dwight Lacey

Dwight is the President at Workplace Engagement Insights. He leads Workplace Engagement Insights with a clear understanding of the latest employee engagement research, survey best practices, and leadership styles that create successful businesses.

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