Who are the people that inspire you? If you made a list, the names of artists, athletes and public figures would most certainly include relatives, friends and colleagues. Sometimes the people who inspire us the most are very close to us. Be it through their philosophy of life, their achievements, their wisdom or their precious advice, these exceptional individuals encourage us to surpass ourselves and to grow a little more each day to become the best version of ourselves. We were fortunate to meet one of these inspiring people, Sébastien Audy, to discuss perseverance and the importance of surpassing oneself.
Interview with Sébastien Audy, expert in human capital and mountaineer
The enormity of nature
One of the few Quebecers to have reached the summit of Everest, Sébastien Audy is however very humble and discreet. For some it is the quest for success and recognition that pushes them to embark on such an adventure, but his motivation was rooted elsewhere. Initially he embarked on this great journey to push his own physical limits, but quickly realized the transformative power of this adventure and the profound impact it would have on his life.
“As a real sports enthusiast, the idea of conquering Everest was born from my desire to physically challenge myself and see how far I could push my limits. But once I got there, I realized that this experience would transform me profoundly. When I found myself in this environment where I was at the same time at the mercy of nature but also in alliance with it, I realized the place we occupy in the universe and in the world around us. Suddenly, my life was reduced to its simplest expression, for weeks, my daily life consisted only of moving around and making sure I met my basic needs: eating, drinking and sleeping. I have the impression that returning to this primitive state of being gives the mind, that is usually too congested by everyday life, the opportunity to be more receptive to new things and thus broaden our horizons. In my case, it opened me up to reading, meditation and spirituality. These experiences allow us to become rooted as individuals.”
A new perspective
In a world where the pressure to perform in all aspects of life can be strong, it is sometimes enough to withdraw for a few moments to find yourself, take a step back and see things differently. For Sébastien Audy, being between heaven and earth, at the mercy of the elements, triggered this awareness: “When survival and maintaining your vital functions become your main preoccupations, let’s just say it puts a lot of things back into perspective! It allowed me to put my daily life into perspective, especially the stress and pressure I was constantly putting myself under at work. Being completely away from everything made me ask myself what I really wanted and what choices I wanted to make to become more resilient in difficult situations. I realized that we always have a choice in how we react to a challenging situation. Do I decide to be stressed, react with anger, fear or a whole range of other negative feelings? Or do I decide to take a step back, reflect and find a more positive way to respond? Realizing that you have that power when faced with what is happening in your life gives you an incredible sense of empowerment.”
Going beyond yourself in each step towards achieving the goals you set for yourself is at the centre of Sébastien’s life. He firmly believes that the process you go through and the path you take to reach your goals are more important than the goal itself: “If there is one thing that my expeditions have taught me, it is that if you focus only on the final goal, you may not be receptive to all the lessons the process of getting there has to offer. By “process” I mean all the concrete actions we take every day to achieve our goal. For me, it was to commit myself to doing my training and try to do my best each session. I wasn’t thinking about reaching the summit of Everest, I was thinking about what I was doing in the present moment in order to get there. I did the same thing during my ascent, and I think that’s what allowed me to continue at times when I doubted my ability to reach the summit. I wasn’t thinking about how far I still had to go, I was just thinking about the next 50 yards in front of me. You have to break down your goal into several more modest objectives and then commit yourself each day to taking concrete actions to achieve them. By noticing the progress we make every day and savoring every little victory, we keep our morale up, maintain our motivation and increase our chances of success.”
According to Sébastien, it is this process of self-commitment that helps us reach our full potential and live our best life that will make us happy: “We are constantly seeking to achieve the thing that will make us happy: get the much coveted promotion, lose 10 pounds, take up a sports challenge, etc. However, through my expeditions I have learned that as soon as we reach our goal, we start looking for a new one, meaning the accomplishment of reaching our goal doesn’t really make us happy, but provides us with a short moment of temporary joy. I realized that happiness can be found along the way: it’s the satisfaction you feel when you manage to get through adversity, it’s every little victory each day, it’s the people you meet and the new relationships you develop along the way. You have to appreciate all of that, because whether you reach your destination or not, the important thing is to realize that you are in the process of becoming a better individual!”
Because everyone fails to reach their goals at times, discover Sébastien’s advice to better manage failures and know how to get up again.
In our daily lives, there is no need to go to the top of the world to do this exercise: unplug for an evening, without internet or cell phone, a moment of meditation, or a day at the spa are all accessible ways to refocus and reflect on our approach to deal with certain situations.
Tips to better manage your failures
Sometimes in life we don’t achieve our goals. Whether it is due to circumstances beyond our control (unexpected event, injury, illness, etc.) or because we did not follow our game plan, failures are part of life. And it is important to know how to deal with them.
According to Sébastien Audy, the first step is mourning: “It’s healthy to give yourself a moment to mourn. A few hours, a few days, a few weeks, but never months or years! You have to work through and get over it. It happened to me during an expedition in Nepal, where I did not succeed in reaching the summit, I was not able to reach the goal that I had set for myself and for which I had worked so hard. The two fundamental questions I asked myself were first of all, am I able to make it and reach my goal? And second, if I make it, am I 100% sure that I can make it back down?”
“When we are faced with difficult choices in life, I think the thing that can help us make the right decision is to return to our core values and make the decision that is consistent with those values. Is the most important thing for me to reach my goal not matter what it requires? Or do I value my health and my safety more in order to maintain a good quality of life? I picked the second option and that’s why I chose to go back down without reaching the top. Yes, of course there will be disappointment, but on the one hand, we will find comfort in the fact that we made our choice based on our values, to appreciate what is important to us,” he emphasizes. “Being confronted with a situation, where you have to make a difficult decision, has great potential for transformation, because it not only defines you as a person, but it also anchors your values even deeper within you.”
Wise words to live by!