Life is full of boulders. It is packed with obstacles and situations that challenge, frustrate and even scare us. But endurance through life’s adversities helps us realize our inner potential and appreciate what’s most important.
This was the message Aron Ralston – whose story is told in the book, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, and the film, 127 Hours – shared with #CeridianINSIGHTS attendees during the conference’s closing session. Ralston told a riveting tale of survival that inspired attendees to shift how they view life’s challenges – or as he calls them, life’s boulders.
Aron’s boulder: 127 hours of survival
In 2003, Ralston, an experienced climber and avid outdoorsman, was descending a remote Utah canyon alone when an 800-pound boulder broke loose and pinned his right hand. Ralston survived in the canyon for six days with minimal water, means of communication or hope for rescue. After 127 hours, Ralston’s determination to survive gave him the courage and will to do the unthinkable – to amputate his arm using a dull pocket knife. He then rappelled a 65-foot cliff and walked seven miles before he was rescued.
As he told his story of survival, Ralston explained how the seemingly mundane aspects of his life played a vital role in his survival. The combination of his emotional bonds with family and friends, his training as a mechanical engineer, and his previous climbing experience all contributed to his ability to survive.
Finding gifts within your boulders
Through his powerful narrative, Ralston challenged attendees to change the paradigm of how they view life’s adversities. When he was pinned with little hope of rescue, Ralston found gifts from within his boulder – gifts that would ultimately lead to his escape.
“Life is full of boulders. So what do you do with these boulders? Do you push them away? Or do you welcome them with open arms and embrace them? The choice is yours,” Ralston said.
The biggest blessing the boulder delivered to Ralston was perspective on the value and importance of his family and friends. While video taping goodbyes to those closest to him, Ralston found the strength and will to keep fighting.
“There’s no force more powerful on earth than the will to love,” Ralston said, noting that this love is even more powerful than the will to live.
The second gift Ralston received from his boulder was insight into his inner potential. Prior to the incident, he never would have imagined being capable of surviving such a severe climbing accident. But he did. And from his survival, Ralston learned a valuable lesson: we’re are more capable than we think. He challenged #CeridianINSIGHTS attendees to embrace their boulders as opportunities to grow, reminding them that adversity, not success, leads to growth and greatness.
Ralston concluded the session by encouraging attendees to smile when they face life’s next “boulder.”
“I’m the guy who was smiling when he cut off his arm,” Ralston said. And the reason he could smile was because he embraced the gifts that his boulder had given him.
Rachel Anderson is an HCM and small business writer at Ceridian. She manages Ceridian’s monthly newsletter, CeridianVoice, which delivers insanely useful insights and resources. When she’s not working on the newsletter, Rachel is creating eBooks, infographics, SlideShare presentations and other content focused on making life easier for HR and business professionals. Rachel loves to travel, drink tea, snuggle up with a good book, and go on family adventures with her husband and two-year-old son.