Leadership Competencies

Mountain Metaphor

Last week, I wrote about the importance of Getting Your Peer Group Out Once In A While.  Today’s post is similarly inspired by some refreshing time in the high country.  A few days ago, my daughter and I climbed Mt. Teocalli (13,208 ft.).  Getting up and down the mountain takes about 4 1/2 hours.  Along the way, you’re walking among the wild flowers, trekking through some dark wooded areas, hiking up some steep wide-open terrain, and spending a good 90 minutes (climbing up and down) on loose rock where there are several areas of what I’ll describe as having  “exposure” – another way of saying places where you could fall an awfully long way if you’re not careful.  Experiences like these always offer lessons about life and business that can and should be applied to both.  To try something different, let me share some pictures with captions that will illustrate what I mean.

Assess The Situation: Before you ever get to the trail head, it’s essential to check the weather, and even if it calls for clear skies, you know that in the summer in Colorado, afternoon thunderstorms are common, so you want to get started as early as possible.  The last place in the world you want to be during a thunderstorm is on top of a big rock!  You must assess the terrain and make sure you have the proper footwear/clothing, supplies, first aid kit, rain gear (in case you do get caught) and plenty of water/nourishment.  Assuming you’ve prepared yourself physically and mentally for what’s ahead, you’re ready to get started.  How many situations in your own life/business are you challenged to conduct a similar exercise?

Be Patient: Getting to the summit involves putting one foot in front of the other and doing so no matter how tough it gets or how tired you feel.   It can be discouraging to hike a steep incline for 20 minutes and feel as is you’re getting no closer to the top.  One technique that works for me is looking behind me rather than ahead – to look at how far I’ve come rather than dwell on how far I still have to go.  On another note, author Joe Henderson, who’s written dozens of books about running, says that it isn’t usually about doing anything superhuman; it’s about doing what just about anyone could do, but they just don’t.   I hear people complain all the time about the success of a person who they believe is not as smart or as talented as they are.  In some cases they may be right.  The difference is that the successful person was willing do to what anyone could do, while others just watched, and they deservedly reaped the rewards.

Appreciate The Views Along The Way: If you make it all about the destination and not the journey, you’re going to miss the best parts.  Not much more to say than that.

Relish The View From The Summit: It’s why you prepared so carefully, why you pushed so hard, and why you persevered, even when you thought you couldn’t take one more step.  The feeling at the top is indescribable.

Know Your Journey Is Not Over: Just because you made it to the summit doesn’t mean you’re done.  It’s the stretch down the mountain where you’re most likely to get hurt.  Think of the people you know in all walks of life who mistakenly believed their trip was over once they reached the top.  The same arrogance and “take if for granted” attitude that can often accompany a great accomplishment will be what bites you the rest of the way.  Your trip off the mountain has to be conducted with the same care as the trip onto it.


Because You’ll Want To Climb Another (Even Higher) Mountain Someday!

Category: Leadership Competencies

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About the Author: Leo Bottary

Leo J. Bottary is an adjunct professor for two of Seton Hall University's graduate level programs in strategic communication and leadership.  Leo has enjoyed a 25-year career counseling leaders in the areas of strategic comm…

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