Dan Waldschmidt

by Dan Waldschmidt

January 14, 2013

The Magic Of Believing That You Can Make It.

If you are struggling right now to lead your business to growth then you are probably concerned that you don’t have the right business plan, the right sales people, or enough marketing.  But the reality is that you need something else. You probably don’t need a better business plan.  The one you have works well enough already. You don’t need better sales people or more savvy email marketers.  Your public relations is adequate.  You accounting works well enough.  What you need is hope. Lots of it.

It will change everything that you do.

It could save your life. It could turn around your business forever. And it’s probably the one thing you’re missing right now.
It was October 13th in 1972.  Flight 571 from the Uruguayan Air Force was flying over the Andes Mountains.  On board were 45 people, the entire Uruguayan rugby team and their friends and family. A flash snow storm high above the mountains caused the aircraft, a twin turboprop Fairchild FH-227, to crash.  As the plane exploded against the side of the mountain more than a dozen of the passengers were killed instantly.  At 11,000 feet in blizzard conditions, 29 survivors huddled around a makeshift shelter sharing a can of sardines, a few chocolate bars, and a couple bottles of wine that they found in the wreckage  of the plane.  That was all they had. They waited for rescuers to find them in temperatures that plunged to -30°F.  The first night 5 more survivors died.  A few days later, an avalanche fell from the top of the steep mountains peaks above them.  As the snow swept around them, several of the group were snatched from their shelter and swept over the side of the mountain to their death. Little did they know that the search-and-rescue effort for them had been called off days ago.  The best search teams in the world couldn’t make it to them.  They were doomed to certain death. For days they waited.  No food.  Harsh conditions.  The odds against them.  And then to stay alive they resorted to the unthinkable.  The survivors began to eat the frozen bodies of their family and friends who had died in the plane crash.  They couldn’t build a fire in the swirling winds of the mountain top so they ate the frozen body organs raw. Hours turned into days.  Days turned into weeks.  Weeks turned into a month.  One month turned into two.  That’s when hope began to die.  They had survived an unimaginable tragedy.  They had stayed alive for 60 days by resorting to cannibalism. And despite it all, they were still going to die.  Only 16 of them were left. That’s when Nando Parrado knew he had to make a difference.  A poor child from a poor section of Uruguay, Fernando Parrado, was a knock-out: a rugby player and captain of a popular team.  His mother and sister had died in the crash.   He was all alone.  If anyone was going to live, it was going to be because of him. To begin their escape he made  snowshoes out of seat cushions and seat belt straps.  Using an old sleeping bag he put together a three-days ration of human flesh as food for their journey.  Nando asked two other survivors, Roberto Canessa and Antonio Vizintín to go with him.  They left the crash site and headed west. To get out of the mountains, Nando led his team up the mountain pass directly to their west.  The peak of the mountain was over 14,447 feet high. From the top of the mountain they could see the faint outlines of a road and the Pacific Ocean far away.  They knew they had a longer trip than 3 days.  They started walking. For 10 days they walked up and over mountains until they finally saw signs of civilization — green grass, a farm, and a river.  They had traveled 40 miles and were now in Chile. Too exhausted to go any further, they collapsed on the side of a river bank. A Chilean rancher found them and brought back the military and a medical support team.  It had been 71 days since their plane hit the side of the mountain. The next day, Nando led helicopter pilots to the crash site where 14 of the survivors waited to be rescued. They had lived through the most horrifically improbable tragedy in history.  Weeks later as the dead were buried atop the mountain, the rescue workers marked the grave with an iron cross on top of a pile of stones.   That still stands today as a monument to the tragedy and a memorial to the miracle of hope. Hope led by one man.
Chances are your business isn’t exploding against the side of a South American mountain pass like Flight 571 did 40 years ago. You won’t have to eat the dead bodies of your friends and family to survive.  You have food in the pantry, a roof over your head, and 300 channels on cable TV. But your problems might seem just as horrific.  And they’re still solved the same way: “You need hope.”

You need to believe that you can make it.

You need to believe that no matter how tough things are right now that you can do what success requires.  You can make it out alive. That’s what your business needs.  That’s what your life needs. More hope.

About the author

Dan Waldschmidt

Dan Waldschmidt doesn’t just talk about leveling up. He’s obsessed with it. He's set records as an ultra-runner and been the personal strategist for the leading business leaders of our time. He wrote a book, called EDGY Conversations that accidentally became a worldwide bestseller and continues to share his insights from the stage as a keynote speaker and on the blogs and podcasts you will find here. Most days, you'll find Dan heads-down, working on breakthrough strategies for his clients at EDGY Inc, a highly-focused, invite-only, business strategy execution company based out of Silicon Valley.