By Cindy Devone-Pacheco
Published Sunday, August 5, 2012
When most people think of Mt. Everest, they think of its enormity, it’s trecherous terrain, dizzying height and its punishing and potentially deadly conditions. But when Brian O’Malley looked at Everest, he saw a challenge that became a personal obsession. His drive to conquer Everest became a kind of calling to him, something he knew he had to do.
O’Malley started his career in public service as a police officer, but later went on to become a firefighter/paramedic, as well as an expedition leader, author, instructor and public speaker. Yesterday, during the Saturday keynote session, O’Malley took the audience along with him on one of his toughest journeys: his climbing of Mt. Everest.
He talked of the Nepalese culture and people, the kind, warm-hearted sherpas who were always happy to greet the day, the yaks that served as their “heavy rescue vehicles,” and the immense beauty of Everest. He spoke, too, of the debilitating illness that he developed while in Nepal, which forced him to return home, unable to fulfill his goal of reaching the peak.
Eventually, he returned to Everest, undaunted by his previous illness, ready to climb 29,000 feet to the summit. He shared many photos of the people, landscape and glaciers that towered overhead.
Of course, his experiences in Nepal and his journeys to Everest are metaphors for the message behind his presentation: Don’t ever stop challenging yourself.
Here are just a few of the key thoughts, concepts and words of wisdom O’Malley has developed and/or come to realize through his journeys:
- When your passion exceeds your fears, you will find courage.
- Fear protects us from danger, but it also keeps us from doing many things we want to do.
- People don’t change mountains; mountains change people.
- When you stop taking risks, your adventure stops.
- People judge us not by what happens to us, but by how we react to the ups and downs that happen.
- Remember the fears you had in grammar school and high school: How will I look? What will they think? What if I fail? All of those insecurities are still with us in adulthood. Nothing’s changed. We’re all just bigger kids.
- If you do more things, you will find more talents.
- What are they going to say about you when you’re gone? When recuperating from his illness, and wondering whether he should return to Everest, his dad once told him: Brian, if you don’t want to go, don’t. But if you’re afraid to go, you must.”
He then left the audience with the challenge of finding their own personal “Everest,” something that requires an exceptional level of courage. He also encouraged the audience to make a difference in the life of someone else. Sometimes giving back isn’t the easiest journey, but it can reap the greatest reward.
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