Sean Swarner is an author, speaker, adventurer, and the founder of the non-profit CancerClimber Association. Sean spoke about his experience, the importance of perseverance, and the power of a positive mindset to a gathering of travel professionals at World Travel’s annual Spring Symposium in Philadelphia in April. Our symposia are designed to foster creativity, communication and inspiration between travel professionals. Sean’s moving story and uplifting advice reminds us to face challenges as opportunities and optimize inner dialogue to reach our goals.
I had the amazing opportunity to speak at World Travel, Inc.’s 2019 Spring Symposium. You may remember a two-time terminal cancer survivor who climbed Everest with one lung? That’s me! I was also given three months to live with the first cancer, and fourteen days with the second. I was in a medically-induced coma for a year, was read my last rites, and then climbed the highest mountain in the world. After Everest, I managed to summit the highest mountain on every continent (Seven Summits), complete the world’s most difficult race (the Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii), and ski to both the South and North Poles, completing the Adventure Grand Slam (Seven Summits and the Two Poles).
It's been nearly three months since we met in Philadelphia, and I wanted to remind you of some of the lessons I’ve learned on my journey that will help you succeed in yours.
A lot of people call me crazy, but I’d rather see myself as a determined person who knows how to take calculated risks. I also know how to program my brain to see opportunities, not obstacles.
Limitations are often an illusion and, like fears, are only in your mind. You have the power to determine what you let into your life experiences, how you react, and what you want. But if you don’t program your brain and your life, they will be programmed for you.
I consider every day to be a blessing because I know I have the opportunity to reinvent myself and accomplish tremendous things. You have the exact same opportunity—you can choose to see not obstacles, but opportunities in the challenges you face.
Who do you speak to most throughout the day? Your significant other? Someone at work? Your best friend? Think again—that person is you. How often is your self-talk negative? How often do you doubt yourself and your abilities? How often do you put yourself down? You probably wouldn’t want to be friends with someone as critical as you are, so why do you treat yourself that way? Begin to pay attention to your internal dialogue and stop the negative self-talk.
Humans are creatures of habit. We’re all guilty of falling into a routine throughout the day. Often, however, people develop harmful routines unconsciously, and aren’t even aware of what they’re doing. It’s become normal. Here’s the thing – positive habits are just as easy to develop. You simply make a decision, a choice. You consciously decide you want something different, something better, something more positive and constructive, not negative and destructive. You pay attention to your self-talk, you make conscious choices, and you decide you want to be more positive.
Going back to the internal dialogue, start paying attention to how you react when something happens to you. In every situation, think about your initial or core thought. Do you react negatively or positively? Do you see it as an obstacle, or an opportunity?
By paying attention to these core thoughts and your internal dialogue, you begin to make conscious decisions that help guide you, via your core values and personal motivators, to your untapped potential. Identifying and acting on these core values is crucial. I’d be more than happy to help you understand exactly where your values lie using what I call a Values Assessment Tool, and help you make micro-changes based on those values to get where you want to be. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I wish you the best, and hope these strategies help you to achieve your goals and face your challenges with confidence.