Pendulum Summit 2020 Recap: Bear Grylls

This week we will be recapping on Global Adventurer and Master of Resilience Bear Grylls.  Bear inspired Pendulum attendees in January by speaking about the four things that have shaped him and the lessons he has learnt along the way.

Through his keynote, he guided the audience on a journey to understand how to overcome challenges and adversity and to learn from failures. His stories of resilience, courage and never giving up inspired and empowered the Pendulum Delegates to get out and find their own adventures! Bear Grylls began his presentation by talking about the important topic of self doubt...

Self Doubt

I've experienced many moments of self doubt in my life that when I look in that cold mirror, I see four things. These things have made a huge difference to me, these four words that have come to define so much of my journey, and these things have been painful at times but they've also forged me, quietly over time.

Failure is a doorway you have got to go through if you’re going to succeed 

It was day one of British Special Forces selection to join 21 SAS. We were a band of Nigeria volunteers as we were good and if I'm honest I've never felt so out of place amongst these huge muscle-bound, men and women. I had that dreadful feeling that I just volunteered for something that was way beyond my capabilities.

I would say I returned to unit but the raw truth is that I wasn't fast enough, I wasn't smart enough, or I wasn't good enough.

That is the truth, and you know it hurt and people often don't know that I failed Special Forces selection the first time. We all like to gloss over our failures, but my failures far outweigh my successes many times over. Failed expeditions, failed projects, the near-death moments still come to me in the night sometimes but those failures have made me.

They've built resilience inside of me and it has forced me to adapt and get strong inside and to get strong outside because the truth is there is no shortcut to any of our goals that somehow avoids failures. Failures is just the doorway that you've got to go through if you're going to succeed.

Overcome your fears

Life is scary sometimes and all of us, we face battles. Battles of confidence, battles of nerves, battles where sometimes we have to face real giants and you know those giants we all have in our lives can be really scary, but it is the universal truth that whoever we are, life will still test us.

It's going to test you physically. It's going to test you mentally and it's going to test you emotionally, but how we react to that testing in our lives determines everything.

If you think about it, life doesn't always reward the brilliant, it just doesn't and it doesn’t always reward the most talented people either.

Life in its essence just does not care about things like exams, good looks or the letters after your name. All the things we were brought up with being told that they were the key. Life rewards the dogged, rewards the determined, those who can walk towards the difficult stuff and who keep moving towards their fears despite the weight of these giants. 

Everyone has fears

You might not know this but I actually really struggle with rooms full of strangers and I know the irony of being stood on this stage isn’t lost on me. I think if I look at it and try and understand it’s because really at heart I know I'm not as strong as people might expect but that's okay,  we all have our stuff and our fears are just part of life. They are part of what makes us real and related to each other in some way.

Delivering a little extra

It's about delivering that little bit extra when it really matters. It is about finding it for the big moments. It has always been the unwritten motto of the British Special Forces, the words always a little further. They were some of the first words that I ever heard when we finally passed that selection course, and I will never forget standing in an underground bunker in the Harappan base with our trousers ripped, we had mud and blood smeared on our faces at the end of those long 11 months.

The commanding officer came in and he stood in front of us and he said this: the difference between ordinary and extraordinary is often just that little word extra and the work I'm going to ask you to do now is not going to be ordering you to be extraordinary but what's going to make that difference out there is when not one ounce of any of you thinks you can do it you're the ones who turn around and give me that little bit extra. That's what makes the work here extraordinary. These words that as a young soldier just meant the world to me, to know that whenever it gets grim, whenever I see people throwing in that towel and quit, whenever I see that, for me it can become a trigger. A trigger to give more when most people give up.

Sometimes you really have to dig, you know, if you really want to access that you're going to really have to dig but here's the thing when you do and when we did, when we stand, when we move or when we face it, we will find the fire is always there.


I'll never forget the final few hours of the climb towards the summit of Everest. We were at 28,000 feet and had been climbing for over 55 days at that point. It's about minus 40 degrees and the dark ice blast in the final two thousand foot of the mountain just loomed above and I just remember standing there just being terrified.

You know you have got the next 24 hours up. I know this is going to change my life forever but I also know that after so long, 55 days at high altitude, I am weak, really weak and I am mentally exhausted.

Within hours being in this chest deep powder snow up to here. It seemed as if it was just never ending and I'm sliding back with every step and when sliding back I just have this moment of stopping and just being aware that I'm no longer sure. I'm no longer sure if I can do this I really am not. I've got this voice, you know this voice inside that keeps relentlessly going, you don't belong here. You don't belong here and I'm slowly bowing to that voice but I also remember sometimes it  just takes an effort. 

So that is when I made the decision to just keep going. Just never give up and that fire, that ember, that spark has been there for me many many times. That is my most valuable weapon and sometimes my only weapon.  Not talent, skills or knowledge. It's been resilience and if all you take from this conference is one thing. Take this: the power in your life is unrelenting unwavering resilience because the storms of life that you go through and the storms of life that I go through, make us strong. Sometimes you just got to hang on in there, and find your resilience.

Faith in yourself 

You must have faith in yourself and faith in others, faith in the Universal force that goodness is out there. I'm at 28 and a half thousand feet on Everest still 600 feet below the summit. For the first time since being in Rehabilitation Hospital in Africa, for the first time, through a lot of dark nights I begin to hear this other voice inside and it is a better voice. A voice that says I am with you and willing you up,  lean on me, keep going, falling is okay just get back up, the summit will come. We all face this, you know, whether it's an actual mountain or whether it's a hospital. Whether sometimes it's just simply holding down a job day-to-day and trying to raise your family the best way you can because Everest really is just a state of mind.

When I finally reached the summit of Everest it was truly an extraordinary moment. You see the curvature of the Earth at the edges and you just feel that you are truly somewhere special, and the wind finally dropped and I just remember collapsing to my knees. In that moment on that mountain, I experienced that voice of doubt being silenced.

What I do know is that I have lent on my Christian faith in the grimmest of moments, you know that Universal kind of presence, like a secret strength a backbone, and for me I draw on that quietly still at the start of every day.

My father was alive when I finally reached the summit of Everest, but he died soon after but not before I got the chance to say to my dad the man that had taught me to climb as a young shy boy that Dad you climbed this mountain with me every step of the way together and one of the only things I took from the Summit was a little scoop of snow in a little bottle back home. My dad used to take a sip out of that water every now and again a little sip of it, you know, it was like a magic potion, I guess. Yeah for strength, but it was never about the water.

It was about understanding that achieving your dreams you were going to have to embrace an element of faith. It's about understanding that fear is going to be a constant journey with you every step of the way. 

It's about understanding that sometimes you're going to have to dig deeper than you ever imagined. It's where people are separated and differ but we are all given that fire within which to fight and we are also given a faith within which to endure.

Be Grateful And Be Kind

I have climbed mountains with men who have lost their legs in war and yet never once did they stop smiling.

Look at all we have, we should have gratitude for that, all of us we stand on the shoulders of many giants in our lives. My legs are those who served in the military, were on Everest, were on many expeditions. Look at our TV shows and the camera teams who are always the unsung heroes. They work so hard against harsh conditions and crazy hours..

It's all about seeking humility and knowing our place in the universe and remembering to always have gratitude for the good stuff.

I look back and I reckon I should have died a solid 21 times in the many early episodes of our TV shows. We thought one time in the Costa Rican jungle that it was a really smart idea to use a vine to rappel down a hundred foot waterfall. The vine wasn’t quite as strong as I’d hoped it was going to be, and so many people told me this same thing. It was a simple lesson. First of all, don't be an idiot, secondly always be grateful for life, and thirdly try and be kind.

For me, it's probably the most powerful thing I see in my role as Chief Scout. I am now Chief Scout to about 250 million scouts scattered around the world, the way that kindness changes us all.

Look at what the scouts are, they are a worldwide force for good and I get to see it from the inside. All of these young people have taken a promise to be kind, to be helpful and when I see young Scouts holding the hands of dementia sufferers in senior citizens homes. It is a really beautiful reminder of how kindness can change our world for the better.

So treasure all of those around us take a moment today to appreciate your family, your friends and never take life for granted.

Remember the real wealth in your life is always found in your relationships and my hope is that somewhere in all of this, suggests a few wanted to little nuggets because it really is all about the simple things. It's about what is going to keep you moving through your dark nights that we all face from time to time and that also keeps you smiling in the brighter days, but remember this you are made amazing.

I know you don't believe it, but you are made amazing so stand tall and never give up.

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