Are You Ready for Your Summit?
“Are you ready?”
Those words were about to have a new meaning to me. In the past I had uttered them flippantly for circumstances less impactful than this: Standing at the base camp of Mt. Kilimanjaro, under a cloudless night sky, with a spectacular array of stars illuminating the steep climb ahead. This was a moment I would never forget.
“Are you ready?” challenged the clear and authoritative voice of our leader. This is what we had come halfway around the world to conquer. This was the goal we had set for ourselves, and now our success was so close we could almost touch it. We had trained for this, and now the moment of our greatest test was looming; literally- in front of us.
Our team of four had taken on the challenge of climbing the world’s tallest freestanding mountain four days earlier. Now we were leaving Kibo Huts at the base of Uhuru Peak- the tallest peak on Kilimanjaro. It was a few minutes before midnight, and the lack of sleep and food, combined with the dropping temperatures and increasing altitude was no match for our nervous anticipation of what was ahead.
Was I ready? More than words could say!
Or so I thought.
It never occurred to me that I would not be successful, but within the first steps of our six-hour midnight trek, I knew this would be my greatest physical and mental challenge yet. The slow steady pace seemed unbearable at first, but it soon became obvious with the rising altitude and plummeting temperatures that speed would not serve us if we wanted to be successful. Within the first half hour of our six-hour climb, my water (tucked close to my body in my camelback) had frozen, and I couldn’t feel my fingers.
The moon shone on our path, but we traversed the boulders and loose shale more by “feeling” than sight. Sudden shouts from somewhere above warned us of loose rubble heading our way; a reminder of a recent Italian team that died a few weeks before we arrived. Moments later a guide helped a young woman back down the mountain-another indicator that not all climbers would successfully summit that day. As we shuffled our feet, mimicking the rhythm of our leader, the mesmerizing cadence transported me to a surreal space.
With hours ahead of our climb in the cold darkness, the mounting wind reminded us that at 5895m the mountain would offer no protection. Finding a mantra to continue was vital.
This was truly a bucket list experience.
As I wearily shuffled my feet I realized that it was far easier to fill said bucket than it was to empty it. I glanced up the side of the foreboding mountain looming into the ink black sky, searching for Gilman’s Point, an important landmark of progress; it felt as though I had made no progress at all. “Just keep moving. You’re almost there.” My inner subconscious voice was strengthened by the support I felt from my family and friends back home…”You can do it!” I understood that a great deal of my success was hinging on a mindset, and mine was solidly resolved to succeed. Just then something went terribly wrong. In an attempt to clear a boulder, my boot got wedged in a crevice sending me reeling forward into the darkness. Laying flat on my stomach I was hanging precariously over the edge of the crater- my boot holding me in place. With lighting speed, my fellow climber scooped me up and steadied me back on the path. The shake up scared us all, including our leader. It reminded me of how dangerous complacency is. When we get too comfortable we get careless.
“You’ve got this!” “Not much further.”
2 hours later, at 6:05 AM on Aug 6, 2014, our team watched the sunrise over the African plain as we stood successfully on top of Mt. Kilimanjaro’s summit- an experience that will be permanently etched in my memory.
This past year has allowed me to appreciate the lessons that Kilimanjaro has taught me. Success in business and life mirrors these experiences: -Identify your Goals
-Develop an Awareness
-Prepare to hone your Commitment- the ups and downs will challenge you,
-Select your team wisely and seek out solid advisers
-Investigate and Implement solid strategies and
-Prepare yourself to be ready to take on the Opportunities that present themselves.
Over the next several blogs I look forward to sharing these valuable lessons with you, but until Next time…
Your Call to A.C.T.I.O.N.™: Define Your Goals to Climb Your Summit is here. It’s time to get ready!