They are the death peaks. All 14 mountains in the world over the height of 8000 meters. The oxygen levels are so low at that height that the human bodies start degrading rapidly. Life can’t sustain on its own. Hundreds of people have died on each of those 14 peaks. And yet, Nims Purja decided to scale all 14 of them in 7 months. Why? Because “14 in 7” sounds cool.
But everyone laughed at him. The record for someone climbing all 14 peaks was a long 7 years 11 months and 14 days. Absolutely no one believed that the 14 highest mountains in the world could be climbed in 7 months. When Purja went looking for sponsors to help him fund the almost million dollars it would take to help him on his journey, he got nothing but rejections.
It wasn’t that Purja had no talent. He was a member of the Gurkhas – a Nepalese elite mercenary unit. And later on joined the special forces unit of the British Royal Navy. In a special operation, he had climbed 3 Himalayan mountains in a mere 5 days once.
And yet, rejection after rejection kept pouring in when Purja began fundraising. When Purja was contemplating why he wasn’t getting anywhere, someone remarked that maybe it was because he wasn’t white. And that just did something to him!
While others would have given up after so many rejections, Purja doubled down. He remortgaged his own home. And booked a flight to go to Nepal to climb the first peak with just 15% of the funds required. He would shoot his climb and hopefully the money would pour in when people saw his effort.
What made Nims Purja not give up? The growth of a purpose that had now become bigger than himself!
He would show the world that a Nepali doesn’t have to hide in the shadows and just be a sherpa, a helper on all the expeditions that other rich patrons climbed and got the glory for. He would go and get proper credit that Nepalis deserved!
Purpose overcomes fatigue
Climbing mountains can be tiring. Climbing mountains back to back is insanely draining. Climbing death peaks means you have to fight snow and bad weather and insane wind. There are avalanches and crevices that can end you in less than a moment.
The only thing that can keep you going is a strong purpose.
As Purja says: “When you are climbing on this kind of scale you need a purpose, if it was just for me I would never have been able to do it because at some point – being frank – it was so painful, so hard, so tough that I just wished that avalanche would come and kill me, because that would kill all the pain.”
A powerful purpose overcomes all pain and fatigue. It motivates you and gives meaning to your life. It makes you more responsible and resilient.
So how does one find a purpose greater than you?
It’s a choice you make. When you start doing things that benefit other people, you will find a purpose bigger than you.
But most people can’t define their purpose before starting out. They stumble onto it.
Legendary business strategist Clayton Christensen explains it best. 93% of companies that ultimately succeed have to abandon their original plans. Companies don’t succeed because they start out with a well defined purpose. They succeed by pivoting and finding their purpose.
And that’s what you have to do. Pivot. Try different things until you find something that lies at the intersection of:
1. Something you are inherently good at
2. Something that will help others
But when do you know when to stop pivoting? Author Mark Manson gives us a clue. You’ll know you’ve found your purpose when you know that what you are doing would make the eight year old version of you cry.
The downside to living a purpose driven life
Following through with your purpose requires sacrifice. It requires bearing with people not understanding you, being ok when they mock you. It requires a thick skin!
When Nims Purja gave up everything, and remortgaged his home, his own brother called him stupid. His own brother stopped talking to him for 3 months, because he thought Purja was making a grave mistake.
And yet Purja persisted. And managed to climb all 14 death peaks in 6 months and 6 days!
- Purpose kills fatigue and motivates you to push yourself. So make a choice to start doing things that benefit others, to find a purpose bigger than yourself.
- Very rarely will you “know” your purpose. Most people have to go on multiple quests and try multiple things before they find their purpose.