18 Sep Top 3 Business Lessons Mt. Everest Taught Me
When’s the last time you’ve challenged yourself? Pushing yourself further physically, mentally, or emotionally is always a good exercise to remind yourself of just how powerful you can be when you are able to commit, focus, and execute. I make a point to challenge myself, sometimes to the extreme, at least once a year.
Last year I was invited by a friend of mine to climb Mount Stratton in Vermont. The goal was to climb it 17 times or approximately the same distance as Mount Everest (29,029 feet) in 3 days, virtually walking nonstop if we had to.
My goal was to get to the top 17 times, but I had two important outcomes: (1) to keep going; and (2) to connect with people. I knew it would be a grueling task going into it, but I was well prepared and had a strategy… so I thought.
Although I did not achieve my goal, the three lessons I learned were impactful not just in my personal life, but for my business too.
Lesson #1 – Planning is Everything
To complete the 17 summits, my pacing was mission-critical. I started the first day with fresh legs and walked into the night and called it quits after 10pm. Other participants kept walking, with some continuing through the night. Not pushing myself more the first day, served to be my biggest strategic error. By the second day, my pace slowed down and I realized that I would not reach my goal within the remaining time. But, I was committed to still pursuing my two outcomes and if I stopped and gave up completely, the entire trip would have been a bust. So, I kept going, even though I knew there was virtually no chance that I would reach the top 17 times. In business, you may think you have thought everything through, but conditions change, miscalculations occur, or you may not execute to the level you need. Either way, being aware and monitoring your progress is key to determining what you need to do to stay on track to achieve your end goal, or if your effort is better spent focusing instead on your outcomes.
Lesson #2 – Shift Perspectives
When I realized that I was not going to be able to complete all 17 summits, I invested my time and effort into reaching my two outcomes. To be more specific, I shifted my entire focus on connecting with people. I found ways to get to know people who were trekking up the mountain too and had I been 100% focused on getting to the top, I would not have had the energy or the time to converse. And, this highlights an important point. Be sure your outcomes are aligned to help you reach your goal and do not conflict with your goal.
Lesson #3 – Try New Strategies
Climbing the mountain is just as much about strategy as it is about having the stamina. When you are walking in straight paths using the same muscles over and over again, your body quickly becomes fatigued. The best way to overcome this is to actually walk up the mountain in different ways, whether it is making zigzag type paths or walking sideways. Though these methods may be slower than walking straight up the mountain, it does allow you to use different muscles and keep your legs fresher for longer.
Where are you not pushing yourself to do more? This week I encourage you to find at least one way you can step outside of your comfort zone and challenge yourself to achieve a lofty goal. Remember, even if you do not achieve the goal, by fulfilling your outcomes you’re able to put yourself on a trajectory for success.