Mud, Sweat and Tears: The Autobiography (2011) by Bear Grylls
I love adventure. I love this book. I admire Bear Grylls. The first quote in this book says a lot about Bear's adventurous life, by Pearl S. Buck, "The young do not know enough to be prudent, and therefore they attempt the impossible – and achieve it, generation after generation." That is a fit summary for Bear from his early age to who he is now. He "attempt the impossible." He is well-known for Man vs. Wild, Running Wild, Born Survivor and many more TV adventure series. As for his resume, he grows up on the Isle of Wight, taught by his father first-hand to sail and climb, became very active in martial arts especially karate, embarked on the most brutal military selection course on the planet namely the British Special Forces (21 SAS), involved in a horrific free-fall parachuting accident in Africa, but 8 months later become one of the youngest ever climbers (at that time) to scale Everest with the age only 23.
For a man like Bear, you can't list it all. Enough to say that this autobiography is fun to read, action-pack and very satisfying – full of adventures! I finished reading it after an adventure to the interior of Ulu Julau (Sarawak, Malaysia) that took about 3 hours to arrive with muddy and hilly roads, sat behind the truck like riding a roller coaster and expose to haze and under the hot sun. I felt like Bear Grylls a little bit. As a man, the sense of adventure, risk-taking, mud, sweats and tears are what make the man within me come alive. That's why jungle tracking, hiking, marathon, walking a long distance, cycling and riding on the road are my pleasures in life.
Anyway, back to Bear, here are 5 Lessons that I Learned from Bear Grylls, the man who drinks his own urine from snake's skin (I probably left a lot of other lessons, but you have to read the book yourself):
#1 The Power of Risk-Taking. When wrote about the Everest expedition, he said, "Many people find it hard to understand what it is about a mountain that draws men and women to risk their lives on her freezing, icy faces - all for a chance at that single, solitary moment on the top. It can be hard to explain. But I also relate to the quote that says, ‘If you have to ask, you will never understand.'" If you risk nothing you'll gain nothing. Bear failed twice on the SAS selection, but he never gives up. He almost died during most of his adventures. The risk of not seeing his family again, the risk of criticisms, the risk of appearing fool (oh, that's true) are very valid risks that once he overcomes bring greater good in himself and others who inspired by his actions.
#2 The Power of Humility. When writing about his successes, he also shares his failures and weaknesses. He also acknowledges that if not for the people who are closed to his – family, friends and colleagues – he will not achieve anything of value in his life. Many times, it was his friends that saved his life and sacrifice for him to be successful today. "Much of the success of the business side of things, though, is simply the product of great people, great ideas, tidy execution and a sprinkling of good luck." When I watched Man vs. Wild I always think, "Hey, the cameramen are good!"
#3 The Power of Being ‘You.' Bear believes that: "Our achievements are generally limited only by the beliefs we impose on ourselves." Bear knows that early in life, he is meant for the wild. Formal school is not his habitat, the school of hard-knock is his nature. He understands himself well and being himself is very comfortable. Nature and accidents might not kill him (so far), but give him an office desk, in a few days, you'll see his corpse! Know yourself and what makes you come alive. "All my life the only thing I've been good at has been climbing and throwing myself off big things," said Bear.
#4 The Power of Faith (in God). Bear Grylls is not writing a Christian book here. This is his autobiography and as such personal life and faith (if any) will always intertwined. When talking about his early years of encounter with God, he wrote, "To me, my Christian faith is all about being held, comforted, forgiven, strengthened, and loved - yet somehow that message gets lost on most of us, and we tend only to remember the religious nutters or the God of endless school assemblies. This is no one's fault, it is just life. Our job is to stay open and gentle, so we can hear the knocking on the door of our heart when it comes. The irony is that I never meet anyone who doesn't want to be loved or held or forgiven. Yet I meet a lot of folks who hate religion. And I do sympathize. But so did Jesus. He didn't just sympathize, He went much further. It seems more like this Jesus came to destroy religion and to bring life." Perhaps what makes him very attracted to nature is because it brings him closer to the Maker.
#5 The Power of Gratitude. This says it all: "Whether it is the wife, husband, girlfriend, boyfriend, family or friends, so often those closest to us are the ones who get the worst of us. It is as if we feel that they are the only ones we can be grumpy with, and we save our best for our guests or work. But this is a recipe for struggle. The smart man and woman save the best for those they love. If we show our loved ones the most gratitude every day, then life will smile on us in return. Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude: three words to help you thrive. Trust me." Gratitude to God, gratitude for life, for family and friends, for everything. Reading Bear's autobiography gave me a sense that he is not alone in his adventures, struggles and challenges. He attracts faithful people around him because he is a man of gratitude.
I would like to end this article with Bear Grylls' favourite quote from his grandmother, Patsie Fisher, "When a ball rolls your way grab it. We so rarely get a second chance (Although miraculously this does sometimes happen, too). And remember that life is what you make of it – and that is what makes the possibilities so exciting." Attempt the impossible!
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.