Lessons from the Mountain
One of the best places to contemplate is on top of a mountain. There are so many things that can be learned and applied to one’s business and life from the process of climbing a mountain. Those that hike with their mind open learn different things from the journey. There are several schools and education programs that use outdoor skills to teach team building, leadership and life lessons.
Entrepreneurs can learn a lot from climbing a mountain. About 7 years ago, I climbed Mount Whitney with Mark Victor Hansen and Robert Allen. (Mark Victor Hansen is a speaker and famed co-creator of the “Chicken Soup for The Soul” series. Robert Allen is a renowned author, entrepreneur and real estate guru). We climbed together with a group of entrepreneurs on a trip organized by my friend Werner Berger, who is a business strategist who once broke the record as the oldest man to climb Mount Everest. Our group had been watching Mark and Robert speak and teach from a stage over the prior weeks where they were very comfortable. The hike to Mount Whitney was the first time we had the opportunity to interact in a situation where we all had to overcome challenges together in unfamiliar, treacherous territory. We learned a lot about each of our strengths, limitations, and the value of teamwork. It does not matter how much fame and fortune you have attained, when you are crossing a steep, snow covered slope that drops thousands of feet off a cliff, everyone is on the same playing field. The view from the summit made it all worth it.
Robert Allen often uses his experience of a previous dangerous hike he had taken as a lesson to illustrate the following:
The best fishing holes are usually found in the most difficult to reach places. Those that do what it takes to make the trip and overcome adversary, reap the benefits.
A few lessons that I took from the experience of climbing Mount Whitney were:
It is easier to get somewhere if you know where you are going. It is smart to study the terrain you will be hiking and get a rough idea of what you are in for. Make sure you have the right supplies and are prepared for emergencies. You should also have an idea of who you will be climbing with. A plan can help you avoid some real problems and help you have a much more enjoyable experience. If things don’t go according to the plan, be ready to improvise with good judgment.
Keep steady and be persistent
The secret for reaching new heights really comes down to putting one foot in front of the other. Learn from those who have come before you to chart your course. Then keep chugging along with dogged persistence. If you work as a team, your strengths are multiplied.
Bring a good guide
A competent guide is invaluable to help you avoid the common pitfalls and danger zones. They can help guide you through the rough areas of the hike and get you to the summit a lot easier than if you were to go it alone. There are many people that are willing to share their experience. It makes sense to listen to them.
Expect ups and downs
There may be some really steep, arduous cliffs to climb as well as some easy plateaus and dips. The trail to the top is full of challenges. Be prepared to meet each one. Realize that it is all part of the process. Each time you overcome a challenge, you emerge stronger, wiser, and closer to your goal.
Enjoy every part of the journey
The great beauty of the climb is all around you every step of the way. Everywhere you look there is something fascinating. All the ups and downs have something to teach you. Don’t forget to enjoy yourself along the way.
Take advantage of the opportunities to gain a new perspective
Each part of the journey offers a different perspective. The terrain, plants, and wildlife often change during an ascent. You will get to see a different part of the mountain and gain a new understanding if you take time to absorb it. Once you sit on top and look back down over the vast peaks, take time to contemplate what you have done and enjoy the moment.
The natural world has so much to teach us. I hope you find strength and enlightenment climbing your own personal mountains and share your experiences to help others.