Seb Sasseville, the first Canadian living with Type 1 diabetes to reach the summit of Mount Everest.
In 2008, Sebastien Sasseville reached the summit of Mount Everest. He then completed multiple Ironman and the mythical Sahara race. In 2014, he ran across Canada from St. John’s, Newfoundland, to Vancouver: 7,200 km, or 170 marathons in nine months.
Sébastien was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2002, the most severe form of diabetes.
Sebastien vowed that the obstacle would never keep him from living life to the fullest.
Why did you climbed Mont Everest?
"I think the main reason why I thought about climbing Mount Everest is that it seemed really hard. When I was a kid, I climbed in trees all the time. I liked the act of climbing, I liked the viewpoints at the top. I felt good when I climbed in trees. And then someone told me about Mount Everest and it was the tallest and the biggest. And then I started to saw films and documentaries and books about the men and women who would do such a thing would climb Mount Everest. And to me, they were heroes and I thought they were invincible. I thought they were so cool. I thought what an accomplishment if you can climb all the way to the top of the world."
“I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was 22 [...] which was absolutely magical because it gave me, it provided me with the ultimate fuel.”
But what was you motivation?
"I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was 22. So typical 22-years-old university student, you know, if Mount Everest would have been in my backyard, even though it would have been the biggest, I don't think it would have been appealing so that, there was that element of travel of, and I guess again, the travel within the travel, when you meet different cultures, when you go in a country that is very different.
So all of this put together to me, it became an obsession, I absolutely wanted to do it. And then you're diagnosed with a very serious condition, you're not invincible anymore, which was an absolute blessing to me, was it taught me to be very humble. It gave purpose to something I already wanted to do, which was absolutely magical because it gave me, it provided me with the ultimate fuel."
What misconception that should be debunked about climbing Mount Everest?
"Yeah, people think the climb Mount Everest, you need a bit of money, some gear, a bit of vacation. It's a two-months process. You're away from home for three months. There's absolutely no guarantees you will summit. I don't care if you're the best climber on the planet. The mountain decides if you're gonna get to see the view from the top. And for some reason, that was very appealing to me. So the act of climbing to me is just the tip of the iceberg. And when I love about endurance, racing in endurance, sports or events is that the main part of it is invisible if you don't enjoy the process."
"And in the summit by the way, you stand on the summit for five minutes. I dreamed about it my whole life. (chuckles) I trained for 10 years, it took two months to climb, we were on the top for five minutes and that's the half mark, and most people die on the way down."
"So if you don't love the process, if you don't love being told no, if it doesn't excite you, that you have to go back to the drawing boards and come up with a better proposal. I don't care if you're a great climber, you don't have the whole package that it takes to get to the top.
And then the parallel with any big goals we have. I mean, it's the same, you have to love the journey to get to the destination. So to me, it's not a goal, it's an outcome."
What is the most difficult part of achieving your goals?
"The most difficult part is to cut the noise and to be brave and brave enough to listen
to you, your passion, and the ultimate challenge is you. How will you react to that, how resilient will you decide to be, learn to be, and how much, you know, do you really, really want it?
How much are you willing to suffer to get the things you want to achieve? I was demotivated, it was rough. I had doubts, I went through major failures, the moments where you don't know if you're gonna find what it takes to make it happen. So you question yourself and your abilities and your self-worth. Of course, you go through those moments."
“If you're just brave, then you don't have a plan and you can't execute. If you have a vision but no bravery, then you never start.”
What does brave mean to you?
"To me now, brave means to not trying to overcome adversity, but to welcome, that's being brave. When I was first diagnosed, I tried to overcome my disease. And there are no straight lines in sports, neither in business. Sometimes you have to take a step back. That's a beautiful parallel with high altitude mount terrain in Mount Everest, actually, because it's not a gradual climb. You have to go up and down and up and down and up and down many times to acclimatize so that you can execute better when it really matters.
You need to be brave and then you need vision. If you're just brave, then you don't have a plan and you can't execute. If you have a vision but no bravery, then you never start. So the two combines now are extremely powerful."
Sébastien’s unique journey allows him to convey true, strong and thoughtful messages. An inspirational & business keynote speaker, a TEDx speaker and an endurance athlete. He has delivered over 500 keynotes in North America, Europe and Asia.
“once you're passionate try to find it, it's about listening to what's already there. This is me, this is my calling, this is what I wanna do, this is what I'm born to do. And if you follow that, I mean, magic happens.”―Sébastien Sasseville
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Thank you Sébastien for sharing your story and passion.
VIDEO ARCHIVE FOOTAGE BY:
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Artgrid & Artlist
Documentary extract footage from:
Beyond the Edge
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