And this is what I told myself. I said, “Gary, you’re going to do this! You’re not quitting. Because if you die, you’ll still be an example to your boys that you don’t quit just because it gets difficult. You just don’t quit.” So when life knocks you down, roll over and look at the stars, okay?
This is pulling into the Yentna checkpoint at 8:27 a.m., February 5. The temperature was 15°F below zero. And the wind. I don’t remember how strong the wind was, but it was over 10 miles an hour. That’s why I had that white jacket on, as a windbreaker.
Here I’m cooking, getting ready to feed my dogs again.
You take care of your dogs. You take care of your people. You take care of those who help you achieve success. This is not about us just as a person; this is about everybody around us. Out there on that trail, it was about me and my dogs. I had to take care of them first because if I didn’t, they weren’t going to take care of me. I rewarded them every day.
If you don’t take care of the people in your organization, then why should they take care of you? You show them how much you love them, so they can sleep at night, all right? And they will take care of you. So yes, let them know how much you care for them. Coddle them a little bit. It’s okay to show people you love them!
Yes, in those times your head will play games with you, and it will convince you to quit. It will give you every reason to quit. I even entertained those ideas, and you can entertain them if you know who you are. I was standing on those runners going across that big, frozen lake, colder than all get out, with the wind blowing; and I couldn’t see anything. Pitch black as black can get. And I said to myself, “If I quit right now, nobody would fault me.” Right? Mary would be happy. She would jump up and down with joy because I had enough sense to quit.
But there were two little things that just came in this side of the brain. One was, “But Gary, how would you explain that to Jacob and Josef?” And then the next one was, “How would you explain to all of your members, if you quit? Because you’re not a quitter.”
So, here’s the key: When you get to that point where you feel like you can’t do it anymore, then you find a reason. You reach down inside of you and find a reason to do it. Even if you have to fabricate a reason to keep yourself pushing and persevering forward. You don’t quit.
Even at one point, as I was alone out there, not knowing what was happening, I could feel my heart was doing things it wasn’t supposed to do, and the thought did cross my mind, “I could die and nobody would even know where I was.” Two different times I missed the trail and had to stop and turn my dogs and get back on the trail. If I was out on one of those other places, they would not find me for maybe a day or two, who knows? Those thoughts went through my mind.
Here we are stopping one night and getting the fire going, so I could feed my dogs. Then I got my sleeping bag out, laid it down beside my sled and dogs, at 10°F below zero, and I took a 45-minute nap. Now why didn’t I sleep longer? Because after 45 minutes, I was frozen! The cold woke me up and it was time to go again.
An Alaskan whiteout—when you can’t see ahead, quitting feels like a good idea. There I was going across that one big lake—I don’t remember the name of it; just a little way out of Willow—and fog settled in. A light wind was blowing that frozen, crystallized snow; and white was all I could see. I couldn’t even clearly see my wheel dogs, which are my first two dogs—and I had 10 more ahead of them that I couldn’t see. Then I heard Mary’s voice, “Honey, you don’t have to do this. There are other things you could be doing.”
Folks, you’re going to be in that space. You’ll be saying to yourself, “Uh, no, I could go get a job at McDonald’s, and I know there’d be a paycheck from there every two weeks.” “No, I could get a job as a computer programmer; I could get a job as an attorney helping Matt.” You could say and do all kinds of things that would convince you not to do it.
I heard those voices. I was into my second race, my fourth day with basically no sleep. I was frozen. I felt like a popsicle standing there riding with my dogs. I would get off at different times and run beside the sled until I felt my heart would just about give out. I needed to try to get the circulation going, so I could get warm enough because I thought I was going to freeze.
Mushing into the unknown. Another thing that I learned. How many of you have felt like you’ve gone into the unknown with Young Living? The difference between your mushing into Young Living and where I was mushing is that there was nobody in front of me, and there was nobody behind me, except for quite a ways back; and there was nobody there I could talk to.
Mitch said to me, “Gary, you know, we have a lot of trouble with moose on the trail when the snow is this deep; they can attack the dog teams.”
We knew there were wolves; and one night when I was mushing, I saw some eyes following me in the trees. It kind of got my blood pumping a little bit!
So here I was coming up on a hill; it was pitch black. As you can see, my headlamp just reached the lead dogs. I didn’t know what was over that hill; I didn’t know how steep the hill was; I didn’t know how crooked that trail would be going down the other side; I didn’t know if there was a grizzly bear on the trail or a pack of wolves or an angry moose waiting on the other side of that hill.
Folks, when you’re building your business in Young Living, you’re going to have several unknown spaces. These are times when people will pull back, and they’ll think something like, “Ah, you know, maybe I need to rethink this. Maybe I’d better watch somebody else do it first.” No, that’s not what you do. Successful people don’t do that. You reach inside of you and feel your heart: can I do this? And when your brain says, “You are plumb nuts!” That’s when you do it, okay? You just do it!
You know, you don’t just lie down because you accomplish something. You don’t lie down because you’re tired. You keep going. If you want to be successful, you keep going.
Here I am at the mushers meeting for the second race, the Willow 300, February 3; and here are my dogs—we’re getting ready to go. I’m getting my sled packed and ready. The dogs are excited. This is their destiny. They love to run. They love to perform. This is the most exciting thing for these Huskies that they can do in their life. Their passion to run is like your passion to be here at convention, and to take that away from them would be totally wrong.
Here the other mushers are lined up at the starting line at Willow as we’re getting ready to take off. This is also the starting point for the 1,050-mile Iditarod run.
Now I’m back in the wilderness again with my dogs. Standing on those runners; going along at about 8 to 10 miles an hour at 10-20°F below, with the wind blowing on those open areas, across those frozen lakes and tundra, gave me a lot of time to think.