If you are like most humans in our world you stress over things like:
-too few appointments
And every now and then we need to put all of those things into perspective.
Sean Swarner redefined Impossible by becoming the only person in history to climb the highest mountain on every continent, trek to the South & North Poles, and complete the Hawaii Ironman – all with one lung!
He’s been voted one of the Top 8 Most Inspirational People in History, and has an uncanny ability to empower people to achieve greatness and fulfillment in both life and in business. Sean uses his experience, expertise, proven tips and tools to help you find effective strategies that produce results.
Everyone has an empowering story, a unique perspective, and the potential to change their world. Sean guides you to your meaning and Personal Leadership to create a mindset for greatness.
I just spent nearly a month and a half on an ice-covered mountain, climbing up and down countless times in order to establish different camps and get my body used to the extreme altitude. Wrapped up in my negative-forty-degree sleeping bag, I lay in my tent at about 23,000 feet, my makeshift shelter tethered to some pickets hammered into the bulletproof ice. These were the only things holding me to the side of the mountain. Below stretched an expansive, 45-degree-steep glacier that fell for nearly a mile. But now something was wrong. Incredibly wrong. I couldn’t even think without getting dizzy. My brain was swelling and I was suffering from extreme anxiety and vertigo.
I knew I was dying…again.
Having just three months to live puts everything into perspective. While my friends were all off worrying about the coolest shoes, the latest hairstyles, and being popular, I was lying in a hospital bed in Columbus, Ohio, fighting for my life. I would stare at the television, wondering what was going to show up in my compartmentalized, divided food tray that night. Did I even care? Not really. I just wanted to get out of there. I wanted my life back. Meanwhile, all that kept running through my brain was, Why me?
Lying in the hospital bed after the first treatment, I thought to myself, Hey, that wasn’t so bad after all. All those horror stories of being nauseous, vomiting, and losing your hair…maybe they weren’t true after all. I drifted off with a smile on my face.
The morning after my fourth treatment, I woke up and could feel that all-too-familiar morning pressure on my bladder. I swung my swollen feet to the edge of the bed and started to rock myself out, when, out of the corner of my eye, something caught my attention. My pillow looked like a dog with a severe shedding problem had slept on it. Obviously I knew that wasn’t the case. I couldn’t believe my eyes. This was one of the worst things that could possibly happen. It was what I’d dreaded and feared the most. That was my hair! From my head!
My hands trembled as I gently brushed away the hairs that only hours before had been attached to my head. I sobbed uncontrollably. In a panic I scooped up the hair and ran to the bathroom to see where it had all come from. Maybe it was only a small patch. Maybe nobody would notice. Maybe I could cover it up. Then again, maybe not. Staring into the mirror, I didn’t even recognize the person looking back at me. I used to be the embodiment of fitness and health. Now the dark bags under my eyes made me look like I hadn’t slept in months, and my once athletic swimmer’s body was approaching the limits of obesity. I choked back the tears, telling myself, “I’m tough. I can handle this.”
I turned on the shower, understanding what was coming next was going to be difficult, but it was something I had to do. Leaning forward, I could feel the warm water against my scalp. I worked the shampoo up into a lather and prepared myself for what I knew was going to be a traumatic experience. Feeling my fingers work their way through the remaining hair on my scalp, my hands began to tremble. Slowly, I pulled my hands off my head and into view, and I was horrified to see they were absolutely covered in hair. I couldn’t breathe. I collapsed onto the shower floor, pulling chunks of hair out of the drain so the water could flow out. I just sat there crying, in utter shock. Everything I ever wanted from life was now so far out of reach. How was I ever going to get through this? Would I even survive the day?
I don’t know how long I was in there, but it must have been quite a while, because when I started coming back to reality, I was shivering uncontrollably. The water, no longer warm, was like flowing ice. Every single hair on my teenage head had fallen out — eyebrows, eyelashes…everything.
I was a bonafide freak.
Flash forward 10 years, and after my second terminal cancer, and a prognosis of 14 days – attempting to climb Mt. Everest with ONE LUNG… I had never seen anything more spectacular, and I couldn’t imagine anything more beautiful. The clouds stretched out like an ocean, the mountain peaks were little islands scattered out as far as the eye could see. Out along the horizon was the most incredible, most amazing sunrise I had ever seen. The most intense purples, yellows, oranges, blues, and pinks — it was absolutely stunning. And then it hit me. As I looked a little closer, I could see that the horizon wasn’t flat. Up this high, at the very top of the world, the horizon is curved. I could actually see the curvature of the Earth.
As I turned and looked off to my left, it was still dark, and there, straight out …stars. I was looking at stars at eye level! I stood there smiling and in awe, choking back the tears. I knew right then that I was where I was meant be at that moment in time. I knew I was going to make it to the top.
When I finally reached the summit that morning, I collapsed to my knees, pulled off my oxygen mask, and there was that smell — the smell of ozone, just as I had imagined it. It was true. It was real. This was real.
I was on top of the world.
It was an incredible moment, and we were all so emotional. But, of course, I had a higher purpose for being there.
What’s holding you back?
Written by Sean Swarner