David Lim

Episode (71) – How to overcome any obstacle in life


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David Lim is an expert in leadership and overcoming obstacles. In 1998, he made history as the leader of the first Singaporean Mount Everest Expedition.

 

On today’s show,

 

David shares his tips on how to become more resilient in everyday life.

 

David also covers,

 

  • How one 50 pence book inspired him to climb Mount Everest
  • What did he learn after having to go through the rare nerve disorder
  • Asking the right questions is more important than trying to find the right answers
  • His Life Changing Questions are: “What do you want now?”, “What stops you?” and “What’s preventing you from doing that?”
  • How one unfortunate event made him realize that the only thing he can change is the future, not the past
  • We are the only people stopping ourselves from becoming truly successful
  • There are two questions that can help you eliminate any obstacle: What resources do you have? What kind of skills are needed to achieve that particular goal?
  • What happens to us is determined by our language and our deep-rooted beliefs
  • We can learn to motivate ourselves by learning to frame the obstacles differently
  • Obstacles are more manageable when you break them down into chunks
  • When you have negative thoughts don’t look how far you still have to go, look at how far you have come already
  • He tends to chunk down all the big tasks into smaller ones to finish them more easily
  • You should always see what is it that you can achieve today that’s going to help you get a bit closer to your goal
  • Thing still on his bucket list is ski mountaineering

 

Tweets

David Lim is sharing his Life Changing Question. You can listen here Click To Tweet How to overcome any obstacle in your life with ease? Davim Lim shares his tips Click To Tweet What to do to become more resilient in life? David Lim explains Click To Tweet

 

Resources Mentioned in this show:

http://www.everest.org.sg/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/HighIncomeSpeaker/about/

 

Recommended Reading:

 

Transcription

If just one question could immediately transform the quality of your life or the results of your business, would you want to know what that question was? Life and business strategist, Kevin Bees, interviews success masters to discover their life-changing questions. Welcome to the Life-Changing Questions podcast.

KEVIN:
On today’s show, we have an expert in leadership and overcoming obstacles. Our guest today is David Lim and in 1998, he made history as the leader of the first Singaporean Mount Everest Expedition. The landmark climb captured the [0:00:37] imagination about the art of the possible and ignited the need for calculating risk-taking courage and imagination in the flat, tropical island nation of Singapore. David is speaking to us from Singapore today and I am so excited to welcome him. So welcome to the show today, David.

DAVID:
Well, thank you for having me, Kevin. Glad to be here.

KEVIN:
David, what’s most remarkable about your achievements in climbing in Mount Everest, then guiding others to climb the same thing is [0:01:02] Singapore, which is probably not the most mountainous region on earth, and number two, of course, that I did mention in the Bio was that I know that at some point on the journey of mountaineering, you were struck down by a rare nerve disorder as well which paralyzed you completely from the eyes down, but that hasn’t stopped you. You still subsequently overcame that and gone on to climb and lead even more expeditions on mountains. So I wondered if you could tell us a little bit about your remarkable journey so far.

DAVID:
Alright. So I guess I am one of those people who read a book that changed their lives. I know it sounds corny, but about 20 or 25 years ago, I went to a library sale in Putney in London, where I was living, working [0:01:41] you know what, where you find a book on the cheap, found a book for 50 pence that’s called “The Shining Mountain” by Peter Boardman. I read it. Not being on mountain, I said, this is so thrilling, I’ve got to try this sport. So there [0:01:55] office there was a retired climber. So he showed me the ropes [0:01:59] and that’s really how I started my journey. So I can say I read a book that changed my life.

KEVIN:
Incredible! A 50 pence book and off you are up climbing Mount Everest. That’s very inspiring to say.

DAVID:
Well, I mean it took another year or so, for you know, the team to come together and for me to get enough expedition and climbing experience to have some confidence saying, okay, we’ll go. This is the base of experience and skill now. Let’s build on it and in 3 years, let’s raise [0:02:22] million dollars and get this group of, rag-tag group of amateurs on the top of Mount Everest. And you know, mind you, it’s like the Jamaican Olympic Bobsleigh team [0:02:30] everything going against us, for example, no mountains [0:02:34] no snow and ice except in the bottom of your dessert bowl, so we were pretty challenged.

KEVIN:
[Laughs] Yeah and the ice in bottom of your dessert bowl probably isn’t gonna help you climb Mount Everest. So..

DAVID:
Yeah, I know it isn’t.

KEVIN:
David, tell us, you have taken all your knowledge, all your experience, you’ve guided many to climb many mountains and now you [0:02:54] insight to help in leadership and develop leaders. I wonder if there is some particular wisdom or experience that you can share with us from your journey.

DAVID:
Yeah, yeah. I found. This is backwards. I came back from Mount Everest. A week after coming back, I came down with this rare nerve disorder, you mentioned that earlier. And this rare nerve disorder is called Guillain-Barre Syndrome and [0:03:13] because it’s a disorder. It’s your own immune system going crazy, attacks your nerves and then [0:03:18] paralysed and in very severe cases, like mine, I was paralyzed from eyes down. I could only blink my left eyelid and I went to this horrible journey where you know, your lungs have to be suctioned where all the fluids get built up because you have got antibiotic resistant pneumonia and throughout this horrible six months, I stayed in the hospital most of the time [0:03:35] was disabled. You are aware of everything that is going on around you, aware, but you can’t do anything. And eventually your nerves begin to grow back and that’s because what’s causing the [0:03:42] of the white blood cells. So once that we knew that the nerves have to grow back, but it takes an incredibly long time for the nerves to grow back and it’s not a 100% guarantee you got everything back, as that was my case. I left the hospital after 6 months with permanent disabilities below the knees at both legs and the right leg’s the worst, so I can’t use the right foot; it also just dangles uselessly, but then, you know, I begin to realize that asking the right questions is actually sometimes much more important than trying to find the right answers.

KEVIN:
Hmm.. That’s interesting. Particularly given the topic of our show. Tell us about that question. What question did you ask?

DAVID:
Well, I’ll give you an example. On Everest, doing a summit push, and that’s the time where [0:04:23] you are acclimatized, you are healthy and a small window of opportunity opens towards the end of the season where everyone has to try and make a summit attempt. If you don’t make an attempt, you are going to [0:04:33] summit windows that you have, that’s it, you know, monsoon arrives, the season’s over and you go home [0:04:39] So on the summit climb together with 4 or 5 other of my team mates, I cracked two ribs and I was lying in agonizing pain and I quickly began to realize two things, one, I might not get off this mountain in one piece because you know, I just [0:04:53] two, my personal dream of climbing the Everest [0:04:58] by the minute. And I was very depressed because [0:05:01] for about 4 years. And then I ask myself, what I call, the classic question [0:05:06] and the question is, so Dave, what do you want now? Now I know it sounds like a incredibly stupid simple question, but think about it, it’s a future [0:05:14] question. Now, I have been to a lot of coaching programs, skills training in the last 10 years, but at that time I had to realize [0:05:22] because the demands from the person and answer that kind of lie in the past because you can’t change the past, you can only change the future, so that really got me thinking. Well, what can I do with the [0:05:32] cracked ribs __ I am the leader. I can still help the team succeed and that really got me innovated, it got me really motivated once more on Everest.

KEVIN:
And so in asking that question, “What do you want now?” it helped you, even though you had broken ribs, just get really focussed [0:05:50] it was about getting your team to the top, so in that moment you got clear, you wanted to focus your energy to making sure the team succeeded.

DAVID:
That’s right. And I think the same question could be used to anyone who’s facing a kind of personal setback or disappointment because I felt [0:06:03] think about the future because you can change your future, you can’t change your past.

KEVIN:
That’s so true. We can get stuck on the things that have gone wrong or the things that aren’t working, so ask yourself a forward focussed question, so “what do you want now?” [0:06:16] super key, because I guess in that moment, if you weren’t clear on what you wanted, you probably could have been consumed with feeling upset or sad or angry or frustrated [0:96:25] but instead that question got you to focus on, what do I want? Which is actually I want to make sure my team gets to the top. And so you are helping do that.

DAVID:
I think a second key moment of clarity also happened many years later, when I was already climbing as a partially disabled [0:06:40] and I was hoping to make like the ___ solo ascent of this mountain called Ojos del Salado in Argentina. It’s in the Atacama desert. Its nearly 7000 metres high and very, very [0:06:50] explore or go to that area. And I had been defeated in my first attempt in 2001 [0:06:57] and I was defeated on the first attempt on the mountain too. So I went back and I began thinking about giving up because earlier that week I had a minor success. I become the first Southeast Asian of any color or any type to at least solo a 6000 ___ peak, so you know, I was kind of full of [0:07:12] so I told my wife on the satellite telephone, you know what, I got a [0:07:16] pack up and __ go home. But the next morning I woke up and the weather was clear. The storm, that caused me to turn back, had gone. So I began thinking like, you know, this is my second attempt and there’s time left and what stops me? So I had begun to ask a lot of questions, what brought me here, how much time do I have, how much strength or stamina do I have left, and the last question is to kick, isn’t it? So it’s: what stops you? And very often [0:07:37] people ask this question in a kind of [0:07:40] conversation. Very often the answer is, me. Often we are the only people stopping ourselves from becoming truly successful. So I call out my wife __ you know what, I want to give this another go. So luckily she didn’t say [0:07:51] but she just said, be careful. So I ran up again early the next morning and I managed to climb that mountain [0:07:59] 18-1/2 hour epic.

KEVIN:
Wow! And so when you asked that question then, “what stops you?” you came to conclusion that it was only yourself stopping you?

DAVID:
That’s right. And of course, you can’t really ask that question [0:08:12] because you might give yourself an answer that isn’t very productive, but you need to ask a number of qualifying questions to reframe the situation. So questions could be like, what resources do you have? What kind of skills are needed to achieve this particular goal? And of course, right towards the end, you can ask that question on what stops you. And very often [0:08:30] preliminary questions that, well, one person stopping me is me.

KEVIN:
Hmm.. And so you got to be very [0:08:34] what is it that you want now? And then you take care of what stops you? And of course, [0:08:42] physical obstacles or things in our way, now if ask what stops us and what prevents us from doing this then hey, [0:08:51] opportunity to forget how do we overcome these obstacles, how do we tackle these obstacles, how do we eliminate them and move them out of the way, so we can move forwards.

DAVID:
Of course, [0:08:59] over the last 15 to 18 years, I have been fascinated in human condition and [0:09:04] we can learn how to be resilient, we can learn how to motivate ourselves and I found out something really, really interesting and the thing about it is that you can learn your skills [0:09:14] by asking questions [0:09:16] there is some kind of external block, there’s some kind of obstacle, we should take a look at how we are framing our obstacles, meaning unless we frame it in a way that’s permanent or pervasive, for example, oh, you know, I feel I’m totally useless or I’m never gonna get that promotion, so [0:09:31] deep constructing language __ reality, you can begin to see that, you know, ___ never really got in a 100 years and you know, once those kind of deep rooted beliefs begin to loosen, possibilities appear over the horizon. As long as we think that all of those beliefs are facts, which can’t be changed, we are stuck where we are.

KEVIN:
I think that’s so important and [0:09:50] idea of phoning, so what we look at or what we see in our picture is kind of determined by our language. So like you said, if we say this is impossible, we can never do it, well thats going to be the reality that you create. Much the same [0:10:04] in terms of the language that you are saying to yourself when you are climbing the mountain, you said you were doing like an 18-hour epic climb, you know, this is something that no one else has accomplished before from your region, what are some of the language that you have or some of the things that you were saying to yourself? What were some of the thoughts you had when you were facing something so challenging?

DAVID:
Well, there’s [0:10:22] inner dialogue going on. And very often the way to do it [0:10:26] is to break it down into chunks. Okay, I’ll keep on going until I get to the top of this ridge then I’ll stop and have a drink. Then I’ll take a look at what’s next. So by chunking it down like this, it makes the whole task a lot more manageable. Well, honestly sometimes we get very frustrated, sometimes you reach the third false summit [0:10:42] there’s still some distance to go up and this is where sometimes it’s good to have other people along the journey, good people who can support you [0:10:50] you are doing a solo journey like a solo expedition like this is going out, so it is you talking to yourself, so you actually have to play your own coach.

KEVIN:
Hmm.. And what are some specific things that you said to yourself because I love the whole idea of chunking. I think it’s such a great message for us. So if anyone listening, if you have a mountain or an obstacle or a thing that you wanna climb and get to, pretty difficult to all at one go, so you wanna break it down and hey, let’s get to this next village or let’s get to this next part and break it down to bit by bit. I think it’s super powerful. Is there anything, David, that you were saying to yourself [0:11:22] language that you were particularly using to help because you have to help keep you going even though it might __ difficult or challenging or frustrating conditions?

DAVID:
Well, what I find can help a lot is this, you know, usually you start having doubts [0:11:36] having negative thoughts and thinking about slightly over the half way mark because you are getting tired when [0:11:43] for example, so the good thing about it, it is this one thing I find useful is to keep looking at how much ground I have already covered and how little there is left to cover before I say I got to summit, I get back to my camp.

KEVIN:
So important. So actually then you notice the level of progress and that reminds me of the Earl Nightingale quote. He says that success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal. So what you are saying is, when you are half way up the mountain, don’t keep looking up at the top and think, oh, my god, how far I have to go. Turn around and look back down and see, look how far you have come already and acknowledge that. I think that’s such a really great tip, David. I think for me, not that I have climbed any major mountains, I think I climbed up Mount Kinabalu, which is you know, [0:12:27] any major mountaineering experience.

DAVID:
Yeah, they can be stiff tracks sometimes

KEVIN:
Yes, yes [0:12:32] of course, they are still challenging for me and we walked up early in the morning, it was cold and it was certainly very steep, right. Now, I think [0:12:39] some of the things that I was saying to myself and it really helped me was, this is easy, this is easy, this is easy. I was just repeating that and knowing that as I got to the next section or the next piece, keep repeating to myself, this is easy. Did you have any language tips on that, anything that you were saying particularly to help keep you going?

DAVID:
Well, I have done a bit of this. I have done climbing for quite a long time, so I guess it helps, but someone said, you know, well, Dave, this isn’t anywhere as hard as expedition x or expedition y. Oh, god, we’re suffering. Well, hang on a minute, this isn’t half as bad as that climb, you know. [0:13:10] when you are climbing with a group of people who share the right mind of values, that is often [0:13:17] talk to you about death or dying [0:13:20] also things like that in his hilarious [0:13:21] laughing __ middle of like a snowstorm and our lives are kind of like [0:13:27] it helps to break the monotony, helps to break tension.

KEVIN:
Yeah, great, breaking the tension. And David, tell us a little bit, what we would so love to know then, you really shared with us two powerful questions, so get very clear on “what do you want now” and also, so “what is it that’s stopping you”, what’s this obstacle, what’s [0:13:44] preventing you. Let’s [0:13:46] and if it’s only you then of course, it’s within your control to get moving. Now one of the other things of interest, David, is around the quality of your habits. Your habits and your rituals. The habits and rituals that you had in the past have led you to where you are now. And the habits and rituals that you use today are gonna what’s gonna take you to your future. Since you spend time sharing on leadership and teaching people on how to become better leaders of themselves and others, list some key habits that you recognize that can help make people more [0:14:14]

DAVID:
I think having a strategic view of your life or your professional goals is important, but more importantly, you are thinking about what are you doing about them saying the very, very near [0:14:23]. So again it’s related to chunking down. Very often I go in the office and I have [0:14:27] okay, here we go, what are we going achieve today? So I don’t care whether it’s a hell of a lot of fire fighting going on __ unexpected phone calls. At the end of the day, let’s say you want to get proposals sent off by today, you make sure you write it by 4:59 or something like that. At 5 o’clock you say, yes, I’ve done that. One thing that’ll help me get a bit closer to the goal.

KEVIN:
Okay, so focusing on what’s the one thing that will get me closer to the goal. And I like this whole concept of chunking that. I mean, not taking on the whole mountain, but taking on the next piece or the next step [0:14:55] super, super powerful.

DAVID:
Of course. [0:14:59] what are we gonna achieve today. So you realize, okay, this is a big [0:15:03] but what is it we can achieve today that’s gonna help us get a bit closer.

KEVIN:
Yeah, super important distinction and David, since you have accomplished so many great things regarding mountaineering and I guess even before that you mentioned running and rowing. If there’s something on your bucket list that you still wish to tick off or accomplish or achieve [0:15:22] what would that be?

DAVID:
Well, definitely I have one. And it’s based around [0:15:27] and the third question is, what else? Now this is not so much of a question, I explicitly ask myself, but it’s come around in many indirect ways. So for example, I felt this is a motivational speaking accidently. I began doing more and more talks of corporate after my illness, my recovery, my comeback like [0:15:43] ask me things like, you know, Dave, great presentation [0:15:47] to help my company improve. Of course, at that time, I just looked at them like a deer in headlights because I had nothing else, I just had this great speech, it was a good presentation. And I began to ask, wait a minute, I am missing something here. [0:15:58] how to deliver as a team [0:16:03] programs, how to create curriculum, how to run a coaching program, how to coach others basically. So [0:16:10] industry standard benchmarks, yardsticks, and competency. So I acquired all of this because I realized, you know what, you are gonna help people more because we are not [0:16:18] the story could be great, but [0:16:19] how am I gonna __ them to that? Even the mountaineering life, the what else person is interesting because [0:16:27] the great American climber on the 1963 American Expedition, that climbed Everest for the first time, the American Expedition that is, you say, you know what, you climbed Everest, so what? Is it downhill from here? There’s got to be something higher than Everest. So I think he was saying that you know, well, you know, you just don’t find your life by one particular incident or one particular achievement. You think about what else is there in life? For me to circle back to your question, what else, well, in my professional life, I am developing this whole online video calls as well as a coaching program for speakers telling how to do this business better. Number two, for the clients, I decided, you know, I have done everything in the climbing [0:17:03] I have done big __ I have done new groups, I have done virgin peaks in the Himalayas, I have done 8000 meter giants. Only one area I am bit of a [0:17:13] that’s ski mountaineering. So this March, I am heading up to Japan. I am going to start learning and getting better at skiing and doing some ski mountaineering. To me, that’s the final frontier for David Lim.

KEVIN:
I love it. Ski mountaineering. That’s a way to take it another level completely, David. What a great goal. Looking forward to hearing about your successes in that area as well. Now you mentioned in there of course about your online program to assist speakers and also your coaching ability. If someone wants to find out more about that and wants to contact you to get some support in this area, where would they need to go to do that?

DAVID:
Well, you know, that one of the things they can do is, they go to facebook and they search groups under high income speaker, they’ll find a group, if they apply to join and they can send a personal message to me and I can take it from there.

KEVIN:
Great! So if you are interested in that, check out the page notes on kevinbees.com/podcast and I will have all of the page notes up from today’s episode and the link for you to go there and get connected with David and his community. That would be awesome. Now David, [0:18:16] you said that a book changed your life for 50 pence book __ got you on this journey of mountaineering and being the first Singaporean team to climb Everest, if there was a book that you would recommend to our listeners to read, what would that book be?

DAVID:
I think one of the best book in the business area, this is not mountaineering because you know tastes are very different, I think one of the best books in the last decade has really been “Made To Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive And Others Die” by Chip and Dan Heath. I think these are like two professors and they wrote a book about what components of a speech should you have to make the speech very memorable. I think this is gonna apply across professional speakers, amateur speakers, after dinner speakers, and I think it’s real odd that it just isn’t developed enough. I don’t think it’s taught well enough in schools. I don’t think working adults appreciate sufficiently, but it’s a huge, huge, hugely important competency and that’s the ability to speak, communicate, influence people through ideas [0:19:08] that book again, “Made To Stick” by Chip and Daniel is a book I highly recommend.

KEVIN:
That sounds like a great book. It has very much been mentioned before, but I still haven’t read it. So then after hearing it for the second time, it’s definitely something I am going to get on my list and if you are listening and may be its one that you would want to add too, as David mentioned. He’s a professional speaker; he speaks for a living, that’s what he does, but in every day we need to speak to inspire our family or to inspire our friends or even inspire our staff members or may be our sporting team. So having the knowledge of how to do that [0:19:42] is a very important skill you will take with you for your whole life, so I am certainly looking forward to read that book, David. David, you are doing that so great today, we really appreciate having your time and your energy on this show.

DAVID:
And I am wishing all the listeners out there that they reach their own summit this year.

KEVIN:
Yeah, I love that. Reach your own summit and that definitely remember to ask these life changing questions, so “what do you want right now, what do you want now?”, “what stops you?” or “what’s preventing you from doing that?” Ask yourself those life changing questions and on the way up your mountain, make sure you turn around and note just how far you have come already. So David, thank you so much for your time and energy today.

DAVID:
Thanks for having me, Kevin.

Thanks so much for listening to the Life-Changing Questions podcast with your host Kevin Bees. We’ll catch you next time.

I hope you find value, listening to today’s episode. If you want to know more about this show, check out kevinbees.com/podcast and you will be able to see all of the page notes, for all of the episodes. If you are really enjoying it, think who else would actually benefit from listening to this in your network, who would get value from you sharing such great content with them. Please go ahead and share as widely as you can. I would really appreciate it if you did. The wider we share it, the better the guests that we can get on the show for future. And of course, if you haven’t subscribed, make sure you subscribe. Go to iTunes [0:28:06] subscribe and you can make sure this comes to your inbox every single week when we are recording a new episode. It has been absolutely great speaking with you today. I hope you have enjoyed the show and have a great week. Oh, and one more thing I almost forgot before you go, if you are interested in improving your own productivity or your business profitability, then I have got a free resource for you that you can go and download at kevinbees.com. On the home page there, I have something called the 3×3 Productivity Matrix. This is one of my top tools that I have used with hundreds of clients to increase their own personal productivity and effectiveness and for many of them, it’s even enabled them to increase their profitability. Because what I find is that when they put their time, their energy into the areas that are more fulfilling for them and the areas that are more productive and higher paying, it actually gives you more profitability. So if you want just now, go and get it for free at kevinbees.com. Okay, that’s it from me. That’s everything. Have a great day.

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