>Leadership Lessons from 127 Hours

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Rarely does a movie get an 8.7 out of 10 in the reviews, so I had to go see the movie 127 Hours about Aron Ralston, the hiker who got trapped under a boulder in 2003 while mountain climbing in Utah, and had to amputate his own arm to free himself.

This was an incredible story of survival.

The guy had to drink his own urine to survive after running out of drinking water and finally had to break his own bones and cut off his own forearm with a dull blade and use a pliers to tear through his tendons in order to finally dislodge himself after 5 days of being trapped.

But what is even more amazing to me than what Aron had to do to survive is what he has chosen to do afterwards with his life.

Aside from the media appearances, motivational speaking, writing a book Between A Rock And A Hard Place, and getting married and having a son, Aron continues to be an ardent mountain climber.

While many people would actually choose to “lick their wounds” and basically find another hobby—a safer one, Aron continues to do what he loves—climbing.

He is not deterred.

To the contrary—he climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2009 and still plans to climb Mt. Everest.

Aron inspires me, yet I have conflicting emotions about his choices.

Part of me thinks this guy is off the wall, since he took so many life-threatening chances (for example, climbing without even letting anyone know where he was) and nearly got himself killed, and now he continues to do pursue this dangerous sport with only one arm!

And another part of me is awed by him. He is unstoppable. He knows what he loves and he pursues it, no matter what: Terror, trauma, two arms or one, Aron will be climbing as long as he is able.

It is a great thing to be true to yourself, to have a passion, and to pursue it relentlessly. However, I believe it is a blessing to also have the wisdom to balance even the greatest of pursuits with sound judgment, so excuse the pun, you don’t end up having to cut off your nose (or in this case your arm) in despite of your face.

Aron is an inspiration similar to the movie character Rocky in terms of his determination and perseverance, but even Rocky knew when his health was at risk and it was time to hang his gloves up. Knowing when it’s safe to go and when it’s necessary to pause or even stop is an important part of our survival skills and it doesn’t mean that we are any less passionate about who we are or what we are about or believe in.

Passion should mean we responsibly grow into our pursuits and not unnecessarily die trying. In the movie, I got the impression that Aron was more than a little reckless, and he paid a heavy price for it, but I admire his bravery and that he continues to pursue his dreams.

In our organizations, we should encourage everyone to find their passion in the work they do—because that is a motivator for people that supersedes any paycheck or bonus management can provide.

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