Two climbers looking at mountains

An Uphill Journey Builds Perseverance

Mark Steel Confidence

I’m at the end of my perseverance. I find myself gasping for air. I can hear my heart pumping in my ears.
Breathing is difficult. Very rapid, shallow, and shaky.  I’m swallowing much than usual.  I need more water.
I feel a little lightheaded.  I’m covered in sweat, it’s dripping off of me.
My legs burn, my feet ache.
But I’m smiling.  It is a good day.

You Know That Feeling

When was the last time you found yourself gasping for air?
You know that feeling. You’re out of breath, panting.
You might be bent over with your hands on your hips or your hands are on your knees.
Do you remember that feeling? Maybe you were working out, you went for a run or did laps around the track.
Maybe you were chasing kids or grandkids around the yard.
Or maybe you were about to give a speech and felt overwhelmed.

I have to admit, I have spent a sizeable amount of energy in my life trying to AVOID that feeling.
That feeling of being out of breath.  Just now, as I was describing that feeling to you, my brain tries to categorize it as bad.  Did yours?
But why?  Why did I teach myself that gasping for breath was bad?

Building Perseverance

Two weeks from today, I’m going to be on top of a mountain.
In fact, if all goes as planned, I’ll be on top of two mountains in the same day.
I am excited.  And if I’m being completely honest, a little nervous.
Nervous not because I think I will fail.  I’m a touch nervous because I know it’ll be tough.
I know it will be a little tough because it is still two weeks away,
and it already has been tough.

I started training for the hike months ago.
First, I spent 10 mins on the treadmill. Not even running, but a fairly brisk walking pace.
Next, I cranked the elevation as high as it would go. In full disclosure, it isn’t all that high.
Then 20 mins on the treadmill, briskly walking uphill.
Inevitably, I’d always end up panting for air when I was done.

As the weather warmed, I started doing a few hikes outside. I’d go three, four, or even six miles while carrying 20 pounds in a backpack.
A few weeks ago, I was feeling behind in my preparations, so I started running outside.
In the past, I’ve always avoided jogging any distance that’s too much farther away than my mailbox.
Partly because I hated that feeling of gasping for air.

I was happy when my first run a few weeks ago was two miles!
Then I did three miles. Just this past Tuesday I did FIVE miles!
And yes, that five-mile run had multiple stops along the way. Stops to catch my breath.

Perseverance Is Needed

That’s when I realized, gasping for air isn’t a bad thing. Something I should avoid at all cost.
Pushing my body and my perseverance to the edge is a good thing.
I should seek it out.
I should demand it of myself.
Because only by pushing my body to the point of gasping for air, am I pushing it to the point of growth.
Ask yourself, have you taught yourself to avoid gasping for air? Or do you embrace it?
Perseverance comes from embracing hard work.

Two weeks from now, I will be tired. I will be sore.  I will be gasping for air.
Also, I will be standing on top of a mountain.
And I will be smiling.

When was the last time you pushed your perseverance to grow?

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Also, make sure you check out my Tips on confidence while speaking in public.