Have you ever wanted to do something, but took forever to get started?
It took me more than three years after finishing my first book (Yes I Can!) to start writing this second one (After the Summit). I could not forget how I agonized and suffered during the days of writing the first book, and to me, writing is much more painful than climbing mountains. Climbing is hard, but I never considered it painful.
Writing is a process of soul searching, you have to be brutally honest in re-living, tearing apart, and analyzing some of the events you would sometimes rather leave behind. Other times, you have to force yourself to study a subject you are afraid to attempt because it is too complicated or foreign to you. I honestly dreaded going through the agony of writing a book, again.
The tipping point came in September 2015, in a coaching call with my mentor Darren LaCroix, the 2001 World Champion of Public Speaking. Darren brought up the topic of writing a second book.
He said, “You are sitting on a gold mine. I implore you to write a book.”
That was not the first time Darren or other people suggested it. Each time, I kept on saying, “I know, I will….” This time, Darren was not willing to put up with my habitual answer. That was the first time someone said “implore” to suggest I write a book, and it came from my mentor.
I suddenly woke up.
Dreading the pain of writing, I was so focused on how I felt that I forgot who I was writing it for and why I needed to write this book. I climbed for a dream that was my own, a dream bigger than myself, but I write (and speak) because I want to make a difference in the lives of many people who just need an extra push to embark on their own journey, towards their own dreams. I want to see more people living the life they want and deserve.
It took me only a few months to finish the first draft, but it took me more than three years to get started. Does that sound familiar?
Fear of trying something new or starting a challenging endeavor is natural, and it’s a good thing to a certain extent. Fear motivates us to plan and prepare more thoroughly – it’s better than jumping in single-minded, without considering the risk and cost.
English is not my native language and writing is not a no-brainer activity for someone who came from an engineering background. My fear was totally justified. For the past three years, I have been jotting down my random thoughts here and there, but never was able to organize them systematically, not even in a short blog post. I was too afraid to expose my weaknesses – that my thoughts were not “deep” enough or there would be too many grammatical mistakes.
When we fear about taking the first step, often we are too focused on what’s going on inside our own head, we are too focused on what might happen to me “if.” Even when we are ready and prepared, we still can’t muster the courage to take that first step.
What brought me out of my own fear to take that first step was a shift of focus: instead of my own fear, I realized the “why”.
Looking back to my climbing “career”, I think understanding why is the most important lesson I learned. Why is about the purpose, the meaning of everything we do. Unfortunately, we often focused too much on “how”, thus limiting our focus on ourselves and binding us with fear.
When you find that “why”, you understand how you may impact other’s life, and you not only will gain the courage to make that first step, but, more importantly, you will find deeper motivation to keep you going when the going gets tough.
While my Everest pursuit started as a personal dream, over the years it evolved into more than a personal dream. I knew so many people were living their dreams vicariously through my pursuit; they wanted to see an ordinary person succeed in pursuing an impossible dream. I want to see more ordinary people draw strength from what I have done and gain the courage to pursue their own dreams.
That’s what motivated me to endure the hardest moments on the mountain, and that’s what motivated me to write this book. I’m hoping to help you find the why you have been looking for and finding your courage to make that first step you have always wanted to make. I’m hoping to be part of your journey in pursuing your dream.