I love inspiring stories. A documentary came out in 2018 called Free Solo. It’s the story of a rock climber who scaled a 3,300-foot wall in Yosemite National Park. There was a catch. He practiced the different sections of the wall for years before making his final ascent—without a rope! It’s mind-blowing to see what can be accomplished when someone is so dedicated and persistent.
It also helps to have these stories in my brain, so when the going gets tough, I can draw on their inspiration, knowing someone else has already overcome a more difficult situation.
There are times when it can feel like we, working in the collision repair industry, are facing our own 3,300-foot walls, there are plenty of challenges. The question is, what will we do about them? My recommendation is to find an inspiring story to help see you through that challenge. Find something that, when the going gets tough, you can use as a foundation to remind yourself that you will, in fact, get through it and overcome.
Nothing is impossible.
I’m not trying to be your cheerleader here—I’m just letting you know that no matter what challenge you’re facing, you are capable of winning. Sometimes it can seem impossible, but no matter your situation, I promise you, it’s not.
I can remember wanting to change our repair process from an individual format to a team/assembly line format. I got so much resistance from our team. And I’m not talking about weeks here—it took us two years to get over that hump and it was a rough two years and I was quite frustrated. But, I kept my mind focused on where I wanted to get to, and ultimately, we got there. It was worth every agonizing day to get to the other side.
There is another climbing documentary called The Dawn Wall. It’s about two guys who, together, climb what most consider an unclimbable wall. It took them almost three weeks to scale it, and they slept on the wall each night, not coming down to the ground until they finished. There was one section they climbed that they practiced at least 1,000 times, falling every single time. Yet they kept on trying until, eventually, they got past that section without falling. I think of those climbers when hiring or dealing with tough appraisers—persistence pays off.
Take on the new mission.
I’m not expecting your body shop to be the subject of the next great documentary, but your shop is, ultimately, the story of the life that you are living. How do you want that story to read when you look back years from now?
Maybe you’re facing the unexpected challenge of figuring out where your next jobs are going to come from. It’s no secret that claims counts are down and everyone is fighting for a piece of a smaller pie. Our choices are either to find a new way to get it done, or starve.
There was an explorer by the name of Sir Earnest Shackleton, who took a team of people to become the first to cross the continent of Antarctica. Before he even stepped on land, his boat became permanently frozen in the sea. The mission of crossing the continent turned into a mission of survival. They spent two years, on foot and eventually in tiny lifeboats, before all the men made it back to safety.
The Shackleton story reminds me that he didn’t plan for the mission he eventually was on—keeping all his men alive so they could return home safely. But he adapted and did whatever was necessary to get the job done.
Determination and attitude go far.
These past 12 months have sometimes felt like we are on a completely different mission than what we signed up for. But, again, our choices are to give up or find new ways to press on. Finding new work sources isn’t always easy, but it’s doable. We are fortunate to live in a world where so many options lay before us to connect with our community. You might be the type of person who detests social media. Yet, with a new outlook you might see it as a way to reach people who you could never reach before. It’s all about perspective. It might seem basic, but the reality is that the glass is both half full and half empty. How you see the glass will determine your level of success.
I’m sure one of the reasons you picked up this magazine, or checked out this column online, is that you have a challenge you’d like to solve. No matter what it is, I’m telling you that you can solve it. Determination and attitude will go much further than skill and knowledge.