Monday, May 17, 2010

Doing the best we can. Part Two. When is failure a success?

When is failure a success? Every time we do the best that we can do.

Recently I was introduced to Wendy Booker. Have you heard of her? She is an extraordinary person who does amazing things. She used to be an interior designer. now she runs marathons and much more. She also lives with Multiple Sclerosis.

Wendy is a 55 year old single mom and was diagnosed with MS twelve years ago. After getting her diagnosis, she learned of a team of mountain climbers, all with MS, who were training to climb Mount McKinley (Denali). The team attempted their first climb in 2002 and due to weather, did not make it to the top. But that didn’t stop Wendy.

In 2004 she went back and made it to the top. She then decided to be the first person with MS to climb the highest mountain on every continent: Kilimanjaro, Denali, Mt. Elbrus, Mt. Aconcagua, Mt. Vinson Massif, Mt. Kosciuszko and Mount Everest, the Seven Summits. So far she has completed six of those climbs. How amazing is that?

After months of preparation, in April Wendy set out to climb Mount Everest, the world’s tallest mountain and a climb of more than 29,000 feet.

A climb like this requires much more than physical strength and determination. Many of the obstacles are unknown and unpredictable until the climber gets there and discovers how their body responds. At over 17,000 feet, Wendy’s body could no longer tolerate the lack of oxygen and extreme temperature changes, all compounded and magnified by her MS. She did not make it to the top. She did not realize her goal.

Does not making it to the top mean that Wendy failed? I don’t think so. In fact, I consider her a huge success. She did more than she ever did before. She has done and accomplished what few able-bodied people can do. She did what no other known person with MS has ever done. She has set the bar for herself and others who may want to accomplish a similar goal. She did the best that she could do. Fail? I don’t thinks so.

Wendy has set an example for all of us. We all have ‘mountains to climb’. The questions are will we and will we do the best we can?

I encourage you to learn more about Wendy by visiting her blog ( ) and website ( ). Then go climb a mountain and do the best you can.

Participate. Make a difference. Live a life that matters.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Do the best we can. Who could ask for more than that?

I spent 26 years in management and came from the school that said “you either have results or excuses why not”. It was an approach to managing salespeople in particular that did not allow for excuses, reasons and stories about why not. We wanted results and this approach is both valid and effective in that arena and in many areas of my life today. Yet today, my view seems to have changed….softened. There are some things that we just cannot do or control.

I bring this up because I recently received an e-mail from one of my new ‘internet friends’. I had asked him to participate in something and he responded telling me why he could not attend, then saying “I can see you shaking your head and thinking; excuses, excuses.” His response hit me like a punch in the gut. OUCH! Do I really convey such a lack of understanding or sensitivity? I hope not and trust that his comment had more to do with his knowing how active I am and then comparing himself to me.

Two issues are at stake. The first has to do with excuses and the second is comparisons.


We all have excuses. We use them to justify ourselves for the things we do or don’t do; our reasons why or why not. The question we must ask ourselves is do our excuses keep us from doing the things we want to do and can do? Please know that I am less concerned with what others think of my, or your, reasons and excuses than I am with why I, or you, have them.

The first question we must ask ourselves is can it be done and then, can it be done by me, or you?


Maybe it is human nature, or some flawed instinct that many of us possess. Whatever the reason, to varying degrees we all tend to compare ourselves to others. We do this at the most superficial levels and without regard to other considerations such as physical health, socio-economic factors, genetics, personality and a whole host of other reasons that make us all different.

While it may be human nature, comparing ourselves to others is just wrong. We are each unique in a million different ways. The only person that I can honestly compare myself to is me.

Did I do what I said I was going to do?

Did I do as much as I could do?

Did I do the best that I could do?

If I needed help, did I ask for it? Did I get it?

Am I being the person I want to be?

I do a lot of things and very few of them do I do alone. I have an extraordinary support system that surrounds me and allows me to all the things I am able to do. Everyone needs support and help. Some of us just need more or different help than others.

My hope for you, for all of us really, is that if we need help or support, that we are able to get it and that we do the best we can do. Who could ask for more than that?

Over the next several weeks I will revisit this issue of doing the best we can. I hope to include stories of others who do amazing things and make a difference in the world. I hope you will check back and let me know your thoughts and stories……or at least, do the best you can.

Participate. Make a difference. Live a life that matters.