Last night I sat up late listening to a 20 minute webinar with a heartful Texan. John Jackson told the story of Aron Ralston, an experienced outdoors hiker and all-round adventurer from Colorado. Maybe you’ve read his book (Between a Rock and a Hard Place) or seen the film (127 Hours)?
Aron knew the rules of outdoor conduct very well: letting people know where you’re going, when you plan on getting back, bringing enough food and water. One weekend in 2003, he decided to do a solo hike in Utah – but he made life-changing mistakes.
Yes, he had told his friends he was going to Utah, but he didn’t tell them where exactly, and Utah is a big place. He didn’t check in with the Park Ranger, and he didn’t leave a note on his car windscreen to say where he was going. No one knew who owned the car or how long it had been there. Besides, it wouldn’t be unusual to see a car parked in such a place for days or even weeks at a time. It would be quite some time before his family and friends would miss him.
Aron was climbing down a canyon when a heavy boulder became dislodged, 800lb of rock pinning his right hand irreversibly to the canyon wall. He could only move a few inches in any given direction, and he had very little water left, just 350ml, roughly the same amount that would fill a soft-drink can.
Aron’s situation was dire; his prospects were not good.
But as we know, the creatures of this earth are hard-wired to struggle to survive. Being an engineer, Aron weighed up his options.
He could chip away at the boulder, which he did for the first few days, in an attempt to free his arm. But it was futile because the rock was unbreakable and unmovable.
The next option was to seek external help, shouting and yelling in the hope that a passerby might hear him. This was to no avail. The situation was deteriorating.
Aron went through a range of emotions, a burning rage building up inside him. He raged at the canyon. He raged at the boulder. He raged at the weather. And in his anger, a fundamental change in his mind jolted Aron into taking radical action.
He understood that there was no point getting mad at the boulder; after all, the boulder was only doing what 800lb boulders naturally do.
He had an epiphany: he understood that he was the one who had created this situation. He had chosen to come to this remote place. He had chosen not to tell anyone where he was. He, on some level, had created this accident.
And now it was time to solve the riddle – and free himself.
Armed with a pocket knife he got free with a $15 torch, Aron experimented, cutting through the soft tissue in his arm with the knife that had been blunted by his previous efforts to scrape out a groove in the boulder to free himself.
And then there were the bones in his arms. There was no chance the knife would cut through those. More radical action was called for, and in a moment of inspiration, Aron realised that if he broke the bones in his forearm, he’d be able to separate his trapped hand from the rest of his body. Sickening, but that is what he did.
45 minutes later, Aron was free, from the boulder at least. He still had to climb a sheer 65 feet cliff face and make the 8 mile trek back to his car. Along the way, he met a family from Europe who was holidaying. They gave him Oreo biscuits to eat and called for help.
6 days after having his limb crushed by an 800lb boulder, and 6 hours after detaching the rest of his body from his trapped, gangrenous hand, Aron was rescued.
Not all stories are extreme as Aron’s; still, it’s worth thinking about the parallels that can be drawn between his predicament and our own.
What is the 800lb boulder that is pinning you down, seemingly irreversibly? What radical, crazy action do you need to take to free yourself? What are you so attached to that you now need to let go of in order to move forward?
Look, we can all continue to blame the boulder – but if we do, we remain stuck, unable to move, staying in one place until we die.
We (meaning you) can get out. But if you want out – if you really want out – there’s work to be done. And you’re the one who’ll have to do that work. No one else can do it for you.
It’s time to make things right. It’s time to realise the potential that has been sitting patiently at the bottom of your existence, waiting to heat up and bubble and spill over onto the surface.
To finish up, here are the parting words of John Jackson on his webinar last night:
“Most of us won’t have to amputate a body part to ensure our survival, but we will have to amputate some other things, things that we hold near and dear, in order to thrive, not just survive. Whatever your beliefs are – I’m too old, too young, too stupid, too smart, not able – it’s the victim mentality. Amputate it immediately.”
ACTIONS: Ask yourself some questions.
- Where do you see yourself as a victim in your life?
- How has that held you back?
- Where can you make a change?
John Jackson is founder of The Champion Movement and a trainer with Six Figure Mentors and Digital Experts Academy. Find out more about how they can help you get the skills to leverage the internet to run a business based on your passions. Access their free 7-day video training course here.
I’m Satya Gillen, host of the Hazelnut Interviews. I spend my time between my home country, Ireland, and a village in the Himalayas in India where I attend meditation retreats. I run two services – Irish language translation and coaching, and the Hazelnut Interviews, to help you get the education you need to run your own business online on your laptop from anywhere.