Have you ever heard of Goran Kropp? He is not the most famous mountain climber in the world. And he barely had even a few paragraphs devoted to him in the bestseller, "Into Thin Air," an account of how 12 climbers were killed by a storm on Mount Everest in the spring of 1996-the deadliest season in the mountain's history. But after reading the book, I personally never forgot him.
Kropp, a Swedish climber, was within 300 feet of the top of Everest when he turned around and headed back down the mountain. Unlike the multitude of non-professional climbers whose only stake in not reaching the summit was a bruised ego, Kropp earned his living through mountain climbing. To reach Everest, he had ridden on bicycle 7,000 miles from Sweden, and knew if he later climbed to the top without oxygen, his feat would go down as one of the most memorable in Everest's history.
Yet Kropp stopped within easy reach of the top. Why? Low Failure Quotient? Lack of drive? Poor physical conditioning? No. He had given himself the standard turnaround time of 2 pm, and even though he needed probably no more than 45 minutes more to reach the top, doing so would put him past the dangerous time limit when he could get down before nightfall.
Of the 12 climbers that died on Everest at that same time, most reached the summit-but every single one of them had passed the well-accepted turnaround time that Kropp honored.
Surrendering the Day doesn't mean "giving up." It means acknowledging our inner signals of homeostasis and balance which-when honored-allow us to achieve more and live longer and happier lives than those who careen through each day like a misguided missile.
When people attain their goals in this manner, they are never satisfied, never able to sit still long enough to appreciate where they are at. True wealth of the soul is only achieved when we can enjoy each moment of our journey. The only way we do that is by not constantly pushing our limits, thinking we must get it all done NOW.
Ask yourselves these questions:
1. Do I feel in balance or out of balance most of the time?
2. On a daily basis, despite perhaps working hard-sometimes very hard-do I regularly take breaks and enjoy little things throughout the day: savoring lunch, a break under a tree, a talk with a friend or colleague not about business?
3. Do I regularly have a feeling of fulfillment from my work?
Just think of it this way: if you're constantly pushing your limits, the one or two or three years you perhaps gain in achieving your goals quicker will probably equate to at least an equal measure of time you're cutting off your life, slowly killing yourself and those around you with stress and worry. Does this make sense? You figure it out.
And as for Goran Kropp? Goran "did" finally summit Everest. It was several weeks later, when he was well rested, and when he had a break in the weather, at which time he reached the peak relatively easily.
And even more than that? He was one of the few climbers who summitted Everest that deadly spring without receiving lifelong physical impairments from frostbite, emotional scars from having to learn such traumatic lessons, and to make it home alive to later write a book about it.