Updated: Oct 29, 2022
I am a mountain person in every way. While beaches, oceans, and fancy resorts are quite charming, they do not call my name.
Towering, powerful exudations from the earth consuming the skyline, glistering with snow in spots, grey craggy outcroppings preciously poised on a spur appeal to my chutzpah.
The demand of the climb; the complexity of terrain; the wonder of the views; the color of the sky when you summit; the light breeze across the scree and the sense of achievement it brings – what a wondrous moment – well, at least until you remember that you still have to get back down!
I'm not talking about the formidable or technically demanding climbs of Mount Kilimanjaro, the Eiger, Mount Denali, K2, or Everest; I am talking about mountains we, mere mortals, can enjoy: the Rockies in Colorado and Canada or less elevated peaks like the Great Smokies, Adirondacks or Appalachian.
The rugged, majestic strong friends who provide enough demand, difficulty, and challenge to build up in us strength, determination, persistence, and resilience.
"Climbing mountains is like living life or running a business. It is about being prepared for all eventualities, choosing the route thoughtfully but knowing when and where to bivouac."
You need only be on a mountain peak once as a thunderstorm rolls in and feel the electricity dancing off your skin to know mountains can challenge, demand, and terrify very, very quickly.
"But mountains teach, too; they are life coaches and quiet business leaders in so many more ways than we can imagine."
ONE: mountains teach us to be prepared, to think before we leap, to consider ‘what-if’ scenarios, and to come to the mountain with openness yet willing to fall, slip and slide.
It seems that in business, the better prepared we are, the better the strategy and plan; the nimbler and more flexible enough we are to change with the wind, the more successful we will be! Thought leadership is at play every time you prepare to climb the mountain, for without thought, you are ill-prepared for what might lie ahead.
TWO: of all the factors that allow you to conquer the mountain it is, in a word, Team!
When you hike or climb with experienced and knowledgeable teammates, the journey feels safer, the path clearer, and the obstacles less confounding. Leaning on others for support, guidance, inspiration, and shared wisdom allows all to reach the top and enjoy the fruits of the labor.
THREE: risk is always around us in a myriad of ways from many sources, yet we, at times, forget to take it seriously.
The mountain teaches you to pay attention to risk; define it; know it; appreciate its power and prepare for it. Never push past the limits of weather, conditions, or arrogance because, if you do, you will lose.
"In business, when we ignore risk and take a cavalier attitude to the details, it will bite us – it isn’t complicated; Risk management is a thing because it really is a thing!"
FOUR: commitment, courage, determination, and even resilience are traits developed, honed, and strengthened when you climb a mountain.
You may gasp, clasp, and reach a breaking point of physical exertion, but a rest, a few minutes of reflection, and you dig deep, find that kernel of power within you and keep going.
"They say the difference between success and failure is to never, never, NEVER give up."
I have stood atop a 14’er (fourteeners) in the sparkling sunshine under a cloudless sky and listened to the soft breeze that is truly the Breath of God. A silence above the tree line that is humbling and all-consuming. Peace and serenity must be experienced to be understood, for truly, we have no words to do this feeling justice.
Is it worth it to put such effort into climbing a mountain, learning the lessons, and growing into a better version of yourself? I will leave that decision to you!
Dina O'Reilly is 4xi's Strategic Partnership & Growth lead, she is also our Project Management Office lead, and Ghostwriter in Residence, providing BLOGS+ services to clients. To learn more, contact Dina at email@example.com
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