I've never followed boxing closely, but I chuckle at the attitude of a high school boxing coach. Some of the new athletes were, let's say, better suited for other activities. One of his boys worked furiously for a couple of rounds, but never connected with anything that might be construed as a punch. Nevertheless, he asked, "What do you think, Coach? Have I done him any damage?"
"No," said a bewildered coach. "But keep on swinging. The draft might give him a cold."
Slim as it is, that might be his only chance to win. And we've all been there, haven't we? Slim to none are sometimes the best odds we can hold out for. Those were about the odds one may have given to early mountaineers who attempted Mt. Everest.
It took 32 years of failures for dedicated climbers to reach the top of Mt. Everest, a peak scaled so often now it hardly makes the newspaper. At over 29,000 feet of altitude, snow never melts atop the peak. Sometimes winds at the summit reach 200 miles per hour.
George Leigh-Mallory is first recorded as attempting the climb in 1921. On his third try, in June of 1924, he disappeared into the mist and was never seen alive again. The mountain had won. But friends of Mallory one day gazed upon a large picture of the mountain and declared, "Mt. Everest, you defeated us once. You defeated us twice. You defeated us three times. But, Mt. Everest, we shall someday defeat you because you can't get any bigger – and we can."
Eight more attempts were made on the mountain resulting in eight more failures. But finally, along came Edmund Hillary in 1953 who, along with his guide, Tenzing Norgay, reached the summit for the first time.
For years one attempt after another ended in discouragement. But they knew they could get bigger. It's true, we can always get bigger. Bigger in ability, bigger in experience, bigger in wisdom, bigger in faith. We can always get bigger.
And besides, failure is rarely fatal. Every time we fail, we experience a unique opportunity to grow, to get bigger.
I am not a fan of failure. But because of it, I am bigger now than I have ever been. I'm big enough today to handle most anything that comes my way. And what's better, I'm not done growing.
What I know is this: when I need to, I can always get bigger.