One of the great triumphs in human history occurred when Sir Edmond Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first two people to climb the tallest mountain on earth, Mount Everest. When asked about conquering Everest Hillary said, “It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” Wow. Think about that. He understood that developing himself into the type of person who could get to the top was far more important than actually getting to the top. To succeed in climbing he had to endure discomforts, overcome difficulties, and push himself beyond his perceived limits. And while doing all of this he turned himself into an amazing climber—the real victory!
How do we make conquering ourselves the goal rather than conquering the mountain—or in our case this week—how do we make developing ourselves into the person we want to be the goal rather than just getting the grade? It’s simple. We study until we are tired and want to quit and then we put in a little more time. We never cheat or cut corners. We endure discomforts. We work through difficulties. We push ourselves beyond what we think we can do. As we do all this our capacity grows. We become stronger.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said it this way, “That which we persist in doing becomes easier, not that the nature of the task has changed, but our ability to do has increased.” This is really cool! If you push yourself a little harder each semester your ability to study, to stay on task, to focus, and to work hard expands. This helps you do even better the next semester, and better still the next. Slowly but surely you become an amazing person capable of doing even more amazing things. School is a great place for personal growth. Embrace the difficulties! Personal growth starts with studying just a little longer—reading just one more chapter—reviewing your notes just one more time—revising your paper, again.
Recognize that every time you work through fatigue or face disappointment and keep going you experience a personal victory and become stronger.
As I encourage you to put in a little extra effort while studying for final exams and projects this week please know all your friends at Southern Utah University and I are cheering for you. We know you will have successes and disappointments. We know you will occasionally feel alone and discouraged. We have all been there. If you need a little encouragement or advice please ask us—any of us. We can get the help you need. And, if by chance, your semester doesn’t turn out as well as you had hoped just come back and do it again. Sometimes we learn more from our failures than our successes. Just keep going.
For those of you who are graduating next week—congratulations! We wish you the very best. For the rest of you—we are excited to see you back next fall. We here at SUU have devoted our professional lives to helping you succeed. We will stick with you. You belong here.
With my warmest regards,