What kinds of tests have you experienced in your career journey? Have you been let go? Did you not get a promotion that you expected? Or maybe you are wondering if it is time to leave your company? Careers are full of challenges and opportunities. In this week’s podcast we feature Warren MacDonald’s story, featured on Oprah and retold in his best selling book called "A Test of Will". Warren had the largest personal test of his life when, as the result of a climbing accident, both of his legs were amputated. In this week’s podcast he shares how he learned to turn challenging circumstances in his life into transforming events.
Warren has always been an adventurous fellow. One day 11 years ago Warren was climbing with a friend when, in the evening, a freak rock fall resulted in a 1-ton boulder pinning him to the ground. He spent the next 45 hours trapped while his climbing partner went for help. "I spent the longest night of my life staring down the barrel of my ultimate test." A helicopter airlifted Warren to a hospital where it became apparent to the doctors that they needed to amputate both of his legs. "I had an idea that I might lose my foot, but never my legs. It took guts as I realized that I was starting a whole new journey, discovering what I am capable of."
With the support of his friends and family, Warren started on the road to recovery. He soon observed that he needed more than just support in order to come out the other side, watching a fellow patient die. "He just gave in to the situation and died." Warren decided to accept his circumstances and not play the role of a cripple. "I have seen a lot of people go there. The real question for me was is there a way to make the best of a bad situation? This started me on a journey."
Warren’s response to his "life test" has been remarkable. A short ten months later he climbed Tasmania’s Cradle Mountain using a modified wheelchair. A year later, he went on an epic 28-day journey through some of the toughest areas in Australia, conquering Federation Peak. In February 2003, he became the first double above-knee amputee to reach the summit of Africa’s tallest peak, Mt. Kilimanjaro (19,222ft). He is also the only known above-knee amputee to make an ascent of Canada’s landmark frozen waterfall, the 600 foot "Weeping Wall" in Alberta.
Warren eventually moved to Canada, wrote a best selling book about his experiences and now makes a living as a keynote speaker. His words now do the walking for him. Through the power of his story he has "walked" all over the world sharing his story with companies, organizations and conferences.
So what test are you dealing with? What test are you being prepared for? Maybe you regret your response to a big test in your profession or personal life. Here are 4 key thoughts that I took away from Warren that you may find helpful as you process your situation.
Risk is everywhere – You could say, "Why take that role or go back to school? It’s risky." But choosing the safe route can be the riskiest decision of all. Warren’s Wisdom: "Either way, we live in an uncertain world. I have become much more comfortable with uncertainty".
Accept the circumstances – Not getting a job you wanted or loosing a promotion is hard. Warren’s Wisdom: "Accepting is a huge part of moving forward".
Ask for help – We are conditioned to be strong and suck it up, but we are much better with others than by ourselves. Warren’s Wisdom: "Learning how to ask for help has been the hardest thing in my life".
What you see is what you get – What is good about this test? In what ways can this be helpful? Warren’s Wisdom: "If you can change the way you see the world, you can literally change the world, beginning with your own".
There is an old proverb that says we will only be given tests that we can handle. Each of us has tests in our lives. It really doesn’t matter about how Warren’s test compares to yours – that is not the issue. The issue is your response to your tests, which will literally make or break you. Not that you would seek out this challenge, but once it has occurred, you have the opportunity to respond. Break you or make you – you choose.
Looking for help with your test? Join our free teleworkshop. Looking for one-on-one support? Book an initial consultation with me today.
P.S. Congrats to those who have won a copy of my book Get the Right Job Right Now!
Along the road with you