Building Motivation with an Everesting: The Therapeutic Power of Goals
Sébastien Sasseville, Motivational speaker, Change, Resilience, Leadership.
In an uncertain climate, how do you keep up your motivation and commitment? How do you continue to give it your best without even knowing where the finish line is? The answers lie in the therapeutic power of goals.
With all sporting events cancelled in 2020, Gabriel Renaud and I challenged ourselves to complete completing an Everesting on a bike.
The feat is relatively simple, but it remains one of the toughest cycling challenges: climbing a hill repeatedly to rack up an altitude gain of 8,848 metres—the height of Mount Everest.
After a summer of training, the big day came. We gave the first pedal stroke at 4:00 a.m., and 15 hours and 37 minutes of exertion later, we succeeded. The tough but rewarding preparation was as fulfilling as completing the challenge. Here are our greatest takeaways, which we hope will inspire you.
EXTRAORDINARY RESULTS BEGIN WITH EXTRAORDINARY GOALS. If the goal is possible today, it’s not a dream, it’s just an item on your to-do list. And you rarely break out the champagne for that. Complex challenges spark passions and bring people together. Simply put, there’s nothing better than a big goal to foster engagement on a team.
DISCIPLINE + CONSISTENCY + INTENSITY = SUCCESS. Discipline is getting up at 5:00 a.m. Consistency is doing it every day. Intensity is giving your best effort. Without the other two ingredients, each by itself is useless. When you combine them, you can move mountains.
HAPPINESS IS IN FREELY GIVEN EFFORT. No crowds. We did it for ourselves to surpass ourselves and develop new skills. We genuinely loved the process. On the day of the challenge, the alarm clock rang at 2:40 a.m. We were happy, brimming with energy and enthused about the effort ahead.
GOALS HAVE THERAPEUTIC POWER. During summer training, we were often able to say, “Wow, I had never done that before!” This sense of accomplishment more than made up for all the cancelled races. Setting goals creates waypoints in the future. Since progress is success, working toward a goal enables us to feel accomplished, feel fulfilled and stay motivated.
HARDSHIPS NEVER LAST. You don’t always say, “Wow!” during training. Even worse, you sometimes even feel as if you’re regressing. On the day of the challenge, more than 15 hours in the saddle hurts. And to that you can add unforeseen events on the day of the event. You need to stay calm, solve problems, keep your eyes on the goal and, above all, on loving the process. Eventually, all obstacles seem far away. Physical hardships also melt away, and everything makes sense at the finish line.
NO PLAN SURVIVES FIRST CONTACT WITH THE ENEMY (military quote). The more time you spend developing a strategy, the more you can grow attached to it. Two weeks before the challenge, when everything seemed to be in place, we had to face the fact that there was a major problem with our plan. Without hesitating, we drastically changed the course. Today, we know that is why we succeeded.
AMBITIOUS GOALS PROVIDE THE MOST REWARDING PATH. Performance is good, but it’s not everything. The secret is that the path to reaching an ambitious goal is much more rewarding. The ultimate goal is always learning and growing whether you reach the top or not.
PREPARATION, PREPARATION, PREPARATION. For months, we put together the list of needed equipment. Thank God we did this, because there was a mechanical problem, and we needed a particular tool. The effort required to bring the tool was tiny. The cost of not having it would have been huge.
HOURS PEDALLED BEFORE 9:00 A.M. ARE FREE. When training, we often jokingly said that before 9:00 a.m., the metres were free. We had a fresh brain and legs, no distractions and a calmness that allows strategic focus. In the end, this enabled us to do more and do it better. A double advantage. The parallel with our workdays is obvious.
SHARE A GOAL, DOUBLE THE RESULTS. Neither Gabriel nor I could have done it alone. This is true not only for finding motivation to do the work upstream but also for pushing beyond our limits on the day of the challenge. Also worth noting, the six- or eight-hour team training always went by faster than the two-hour solo training sessions.
TOGETHER IS BETTER, BUT DIVERSITY IS MUCH BETTER. Gabriel is a speed and power athlete. I’m an endurance athlete. These different backgrounds created a team with a much broader wealth of knowledge. We were able to advise each other and harness our strengths to fulfill the mission.
THERE ARE NO INDIVIDUAL EXPLOITS. Family and friends came to support us throughout the day. In the end, their love and support will always be THE highlight. Their encouragement gave us the strength to go on and persevere.
EVEN WHEN EVERYTHING IS AGAINST YOU, YOU CAN STILL GET THERE. Gabriel is not an endurance athlete. He even suffered a serious knee injury in the winter. On the morning of the challenge, he wasn’t sure that he would succeed, but he went for it. He accepted the possibility of failure rather than needing a guarantee of success. Throughout the summer, Gabriel gave his best effort every day despite the uncertainty. Through his resilience and tenacity, he achieved an extraordinary result.
There it is!
Wishing you every success,
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Sébastien Sasseville empowers leaders to lead with purpose and inspires organizations to embrace change. An endurance athlete, his extraordinary accomplishments — which include summiting Mount Everest, completing the mythical Sahara race, and running across Canada — are made even more impressive by the fact that he lives with Type 1 Diabetes.
Having held diverse sales roles in several Fortune 500 companies, Sébastien marries his extensive business experience with his inspirational achievements to deliver dynamic messaging on change management, leadership, and resilience.