Blind adventurer Erik Weihenmayer delivered the opening keynote for Nationwide Marketing Group’s PrimeTime show in Phoenix on February 6 and shared a powerful message with attendees about how to use challenges and adversity to propel their businesses to new heights.
Between talking about personal experiences crawling into a volcano with Will Smith on the DIsney+ show “Welcome to Earth” and climbing Mt. Everest with 19 others (the largest group on record), his message centered around the idea of living a “No Barriers Life”— a mindset of constantly challenging yourself to grow and evolve.
He used the analogy of climbing versus camping. Those who camp climb with optimism until something gets in their way. They stop believing in themselves and don’t know how top the amazing things they’ve already done.
“Barriers get in the way and kill the moment,” Weihenmayer said. “Why climb when it’s easier to camp? For the reach!”
He said those who climb for the reach hope they will find what they’re looking for, but they understand there are no guarantees. When they make it to the reach, it’s impossible to turn back just because of mistakes.
“Fears conspire against us and paralyze us, and we decide to stop reaching” he added.
But climbers understand that they need to reach up and out, no matter what they might find. They don’t get paralyzed.
“I’m not a crazy blind guy,” he said. “I don’t just do all of these things to do them. I see myself as a problem solver and an innovator. I look at things that people think are hard or unlikely and want to find a way forward.”
One of the things business owners must do in this regard is build systems in their life. In the same way, Weihenmayer has had to build a system to identify things by feel because he’s blind, retailers must do the same.
However, he does add that there’s a catch. When we climb higher, we bring adversity into our lives.
“There’s a powerful relationship between the extent of the reach and the adversity faced,” he said. “You can’t just solve problems, you need to be relentless.”
He said to look at the problem wearing you down, and square off with them. Walk into the storm—because the way we harness challenges is our greatest advantage.
Weihenmayer also said to build a great team, a team you can trust. Establish a diverse team that can grow, and learn from each other, rely on each other, and communicate clearly day-to-day.
“Get together behind one vision, it’s the glue that binds. That kind of team is unstoppable,” he said. “One team on one mountain moving toward one summit.
He concluded by encouraging everyone to live a “No Barriers” life.
“What’s within us is stronger than what’s in our way,” he said.