We all want to be successful, whether we are raising a family, running a business, achieving our financial goals or playing the weekend warrior in a local pick up hockey game. I’d like to tell you about one particular success I had and a bit about how I got there.
One of the passions in my life is climbing, and one of the biggest goals in my climbing career was to stand atop the ultimate symbol of mountaineering success, the iconic Mount Everest. I achieved that goal on May 21, 2008. I stood on the summit for a grand total of 30 minutes with the beautiful, snowcapped peaks of the Himalayan Mountain Range bathing in the morning sunlight and stretching out for a hundred miles in every direction. It was the glorious, if brief, culmination of 20 years of ground work.
Twenty years? Well, yes. This was big project. I had to prepare myself on three levels.
The first level involved developing my own personal capacity to perform on a mountain of this magnitude. I spent years climbing everything from local rock crags to frozen waterfalls developing the essential skills, knowledge, experience and fitness that would keep me out of trouble in an unforgiving vertical world.
But most people don’t climb the big mountains alone. It takes a team. So, level two involved learning how to contribute my abilities to a high performing team. There are so many stories of spectacular failure in both climbing and business, brought about when highly talented individuals fail to come together well as a team. This is the “soft skills” area, where such abilities as emotional intelligence come into play, and it is an area that is best not left to chance on a mountain.
I could really affect my chances of success, though, by going to the third level: developing as a leader. When I use the word “leader”, I mean a person who exerts positive influence over the team, connecting to every team member, keeping them focused and shifting them into high gear when the going gets tough. That’s how you stack the odds favorably on a big mountain, and it applies just as much in the business world.
I’ve drawn many lessons in teamwork and leadership from my years in mountaineering, and I believe they ring true in the corporate world. I’ll be sharing my stories in a book planned for release this summer of 2010. I’ll keep you posted on this Blog.