If Life (and eBook Publishing) is Mount Everest, Then Attitude is Everything

Last month Nancy Mixon, an awesome mom at our daughter’s elementary school, organized a Family Night in which a woman named Petit Pinson was invited to speak to our children about her experiences climbing Mt. Everest.

Photo of Petit Pinson at Mt. EverestPetit Pinson couldn’t be a more fitting name for this wiry, fiery, spunky outdoorsy woman. She epitomizes the notion of what it means to chase after life, and lights up a room like the 4th of July.

Petit showered the kids with stories and images from her trip, and even let them try on her climbing gear—suit, boots and all.

But it wasn’t Petit’s Everest climb that impressed me most, or that fact that she had been on an extreme adventure reality TV show, or that she and her team had given up their opportunity to summit Everest, just one camp away from the top, because they were busy saving the lives of a Japanese climbing team that had gotten into trouble and run out of oxygen.

What impressed me most was what she taught our kids about attitude.

Her approach was so simple, yet so profound, it has popped into my head numerous times over the past month.

What did she say? She simply used a Sharpie marker and wrote two words on the palms of her hands, holding them up for the audience to read.

One hand said GET and the other hand said YET.

Photo of hands with the words GET and YET

To paraphrase this portion of her talk (in the extreme), she suggested that instead of grumbling about all the things you “have to” do in life (homework, chores, exercise, etc.), think about how lucky you are that you GET to do these things. You may dread taking out the trash or doing the final edit on your manuscript, but if you think about it, you’re darn lucky to live in a place that has trash service, and you’re uber fortunate to have a manuscript that’s in its final phases.

By changing your wording, you change your mindset so you no longer feel like you’re being forced to do something you don’t want to do. Instead, you feel like you’re being given an opportunity, which makes you feel lucky.

Her other point touches on perspective. When you’re feeling frustrated that you’re not good at something, remind yourself about the word YET. You may not be good at writing query letters or playing tennis YET, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be later—after you’ve practiced hard trying to master it.

Few people are great at things they try for the first time, whether it’s writing, painting, taking pictures, climbing, learning a language, or conquering a new computer program. We all stumble, and even fall multiple times before we become proficient.

It’s all about attitude and perseverance, and remembering the word YET.

The reason Petit Pinson has popped into my head numerous times over the past few weeks is because Jeffrey and I have been working hard trying to master the art of ebook publishing.

Nothing about it has been easy, especially since our book is filled with photographs and captions, and ebook publishing is still in its infancy. Navigating through all the inconsistencies in information and formatting feels a bit like climbing Mt. Everest.

Steve and i book coverMany times I’ve wanted to head back to Base Camp and call it a day with a cold Negra Modelo, but then I’ve thought of Petit Pinson, and reminded myself that I’m the one who chose this path. I’m the one who wanted to figure it out on our own instead of handing it over to a third party publisher.

Because I chose this more difficult route, I GET to learn how it’s all done, and I GET to publish a book exactly how I want it—in all its various formats—for the Kindle, Sony Reader, Nook, and iPad. I also GET to learn several cool new computer and design programs and master things my non-technical soul usually sucks at (for lack of a better term).

Right now, it’s a slow grind up the mountain, but I keep reminding myself about the word YET. We’re not there YET, but we will be. It’s not perfect YET, but it’s close. We will get from Camp IV to the summit because Jeffrey and I are nothing but determined. Best of all, once we finally master this new challenge we’ll GET to add these new tools of knowledge to our creative backpacks for our next publishing adventures.

So here’s a shout out to you, Petit Pinson, for not only inspiring our kids to reach to new heights, but for reminding me that attitude is everything in life (and ebook publishing).

Photo of the North Face of Mount Everest in Tibet

The North Face of Mt. Everest in Tibet, taken at Base Camp in 2000, when I was fortunate enough to venture to the Roof of the World with my dear friend, Janet Cook. This image is my perfect reminder about attitude. ©Becky Green Aaronson.

33 thoughts on “If Life (and eBook Publishing) is Mount Everest, Then Attitude is Everything

  1. Pingback: First Improbable Blogiversary | The Art of an Improbable Life

  2. Great post Becky! So beautifully written and inspiring. I am now in to publishing my first book ever. For first I thought I would publish it in ebook format, then I decided to go with both print and ebook. And let me tell you, just like you mentioned it’s not easy at all. It 5.30 AM in the morning; and I am still working on it since last 7 hours. I am not even sure how to promote it or if it will work for me. As I know people from country will hardly buy my book as its shipping cost will be on higher side. But I am giving all my effort and hoping for the best. Thanks for the reminder, that attitude is actually everything. :)

    • How exciting, Arindam! Congratulations on publishing your first book! It’s a mountain of hard work, but well worth the effort. If nothing else, you will learn a great deal about the process. Good luck to you as you go forward with it in all its formats.

  3. Wonderful post–I love the analogy that you drew between climbing and learning the ebook business. I love the “GET” and “YET” too. So much hinges on attitude. I need to remind myself of all the things I “get” to do, and that I’m not as far along in my writing as I’d like to be “yet.”

  4. GET YET I love it. Obviously she was an inspiration to the kids AND the adults. I loved your piece. Read it this am and it is mood altering and so fitting as I am on my way to meet with a class of 7th graders to bring them the letters from the children in Africa to set up pen pals. The kids in Africa and here have been thrilled by the project. They are lucky to GET a connection to each other. Thanks Becky. I am lucky to GET this post from you. @ AfricaInside.org

  5. What a great lesson for us all! Wishing you and Jeffrey all the best as you complete your ebook. I too remember the beautiful tribute you did for Steve Jobs, so I look forward to learning more about your book.

    • Many thanks for your good wishes, Monica.

      We are publishing our tribute to Steve Jobs in book form, with more anecdotes and more photographs. It will be selling it for $2.99, with a portion of the proceeds going toward cancer research (you already know how I feel about that disease). Hopefully by next week we’ll reach the “summit” and it will be up on Amazon.

  6. These images really do have resonance — sometimes every step up the mountain makes me wonder if I’ll get to the top; other times I see myself up there, in awe of everything around me. The perspective that Petit Pinson brings to young people — yes, so simple and so profound — is something they’ll have forever. It clearly is serving you well, too.

    • Deborah, I love your perspective–both the climb and the summit in which you are in awe of everything around you. That’s a beautiful way to look at it. Self-publishing is definitely an adventure! I’m learning to embrace it and celebrate all the options it gives so many of us. And Petit? Yes, she made quite a lasting impression on the kids (and adults).

  7. Wonderful post, Becky. It reminded me of my high school years, something I forgot about till today. I was in a special class for gifted kids, and we had tons of homework every day, in all subjects. Sometimes I had to sit at my desk till 10pm or later to finish everything. I was an A student; I couldn’t go to school tomorrow with my homework not done properly. And I didn’t like all the subjects equally. When we studied biology – about plants and bug – I was bored, but I kept telling myself: “This is so interesting, Olga. It’s fascinating. You get to read about those bugs and worms.” And you know what? It did become kind of interesting after my self-pep-talk. It helps.
    When you hit a hitch in you road to ePublishing, just try to convince yourself how interesting it all is.

    • Olga, I love your story. Thanks for sharing it. You have lived an interesting and intense life, which gives me much to think about. The funny thing is, I DO think ePublishing is interesting in all its forms. It’s just mind-boggling how much mis-information is out there about how to do it properly. It’s all coming together though. Hopefully our little book will be up on Kindle by the end of the week or next week.

  8. Great post, Becky. Your title qrabbed my attention. I had to know what you were up to. I love Petit’s two words and that she’s sharing it with children in a way they will never forget. This is basically my philosophy, but it hasn’t always been as you well know. Her simplicity has put a label on it and it sticks in people’s minds. Yes, a GREAT POST!

    I’m excited for you both, knowing the years of love and dedication you’re put into your book and the lack of acceptance from agents. I know that feeling. An e-book seems perfect. But I don’t envy you having to incorporate all those amazing pictures.

    Took a break from SheWrites a while to focus. Finally have made some headway. Will post about it soon. July 4th is approaching like a run-away-train. :D

    • So nice to see you here, Nancy! And I’m glad you enjoyed this post. I can’t wait to see your book in print. Woohoo! July 4th. I understand about taking a break from SheWrites. I love it, but it’s a bit overwhelming. I pop in every once in awhile, but not as much as I once did because there are only a certain amount of hours in the day. As far as the book I’m referring to in this post, it’s our tribute to Steve Jobs, not the other one I’m working on. BUT this learning process will make it all the more easy once I finish the other manuscript. It’s funny how things often unfold in ways you would never imagine.

  9. Wonderful Blog! What a wonderful way to look at life. We do take so much for granted. I just saw a piece on ABC World News tonight (or it might have been 20/20) about an author that self e-published her books about fairy’s that fall in love or something. (Never heard of it.) Not one mainstream publisher would touch her books when she first started. She has now sold over 500 thousands copies of her books. She just sold the series to a mainstream publisher for something like 10 Million. She said that e-publishing was wonderful, but she wanted to have more time to spend on her craft. I’m sure it can’t be easy since it is so new but I wish you every success!

    • Thanks, Kristine. I’m glad you enjoyed this post. And yes, e-publishing has opened up a whole new world of possibilities for many writers. It’s an exciting time to be part of it all, even if it does involve a whole lot of work. Thanks for your words of encouragement!

  10. I so needed to hear this today! I’ve been moping around all morning, feeling sorry for myself, playing that same song in my head with the chorus that goes: “You’re not good enough, yeah, yeah, yeah…” Petit has the right idea though–everything good takes time and practice and ultimately I’ll get where I want to be even if I’m not there yet. Thank you, dear friend for helping to pull me out of my pity party funk.

    • Dug, I’m glad you enjoyed this post and could relate to Petit’s message. Your trip across America and the awareness you are brining about human trafficking is impressive. Much luck to you in your endeavor.

  11. This is a great reminder of our privileges and opportunities, Becky – thank you! Sounds like a great talk. A few of the fishing boats I’ve crewed on have had a bumper sticker pasted to the back deck: “Attitude Makes the Difference.” That’s a handy reminder when you’re bundled in your raingear, wind and wave spray in the face, with a long day ahead! I have no doubt you and Jeffrey will make through your own stormy day at sea, up your own Everest, with much success!

    • We are lucky, indeed! Those two words, GET and YET, put it all into perspective for me. I can’t send Petit Pinson enough high fives for sharing her view of the world, and reminding me of all the opportunities I’m flooded with daily if I’m in the right frame of mind.

  12. Get and Yet. Love it. What a great reminder that a simple change in how you look at a problem — can make it not a problem at all. Instead, an opportunity. Glad I took so long to comment on your other post that this one popped in! You always inspire me, Becky, and I wish you all the best with your journey into eBook publishing.

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