The Power of Purpose and Resilience

Updated on 25 August 2014

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Two years ago, fresh from a gruelling 25-day, 800km race to the South Pole, motivational speaker, extreme adventurist, author and philanthropist, Braam Malherbe during his talk ‘Nothing is Impossible’ at Sandton Convention Centre brought half the audience to tears.

In his series of powerful talks he gives across the country, Malherbe talks to the audience about how his physical exploits have helped him cultivate resilience and shares how others can do the same. He also talks about how having a purpose beyond the ego makes even the toughest challenges possible.

Malherbe is one of only two people in the world, together with friend David Greer, to have run the whole length of the Great Wall of China, about 4, 218km in less than 100 days. His other feats also include a 3, 300km run around the tip of Africa, from Oranjemund in Namibia via Cape Town to Ponte d’Oro in Mozambique.

Here are Malherbe’s principles for success from “Nothing is Impossible”: 

Dream big

Success came at a price for the 57-year-old. He has had his business declared insolvent, lost family members and even contemplated suicide. But he says his fighting spirit kept him alive. He believes that nothing is impossible if you have big dreams.
Why did I keep going? Because I had a purpose beyond my ego
“Dreams, vision, purpose and passion…if you have big dreams and are driven by a purpose beyond just an ego, you will achieve incredible things.”

Never give up!

“Hell is arriving at the end of your life and meeting the person you could have been,” says Malherbe. When Malherbe had decided to give up and take his own life, he measured his journey and realised he had not yet reached his destiny.

“I remember making one of the hardest decisions of my entire life: having the courage to live.”
Malherbe says he’s learned that the greatest gift any human being on this planet has is the gift of giving. “The more I gave the more I got,” he says.

Get rid of the ‘what’s in it for me syndrome’ 

Malherbe says we tend to come from the premise of what’s in it for us before we do anything. In the video, he describes how greed was his undoing.

“I forgot about that amazing law in nature… every species on this planet gives to one or more other species. And in that giving it sustains the giver,” says Malherbe, citing an example of the honeybee and a flower.

Challenge your outlook

In the video, Malherbe describes how he took on the monumental task of running the Great Wall of China only if he knew that it would be beneficial to the lives of others and “show the kids that nothing is impossible”.

He did it even when experts told him that the science of sports was against him and he wouldn’t realize his dream.
“Why did I keep going? Because I had a purpose beyond my ego,” Malherbe says.

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