“Fun is a by-product, not a goal.”

As I am preparing for this next trip to Nepal and the first-time experience of running a marathon at high altitude, I find myself constantly thinking about the similarities between training for a goal that will test me at every level and that of my day job, guiding a team of high powered professionals in a constantly changing environment. Never claiming to have all the answers I look for wisdom and inspiration from those who have faced similar situations, succeeded or failed, but learned important lessons nonetheless. High altitude mountaineering attracts a different breed of person – no surprise there. The ability to feel fear and acknowledge that death is your constant companion does two important things: it focuses you with an intensity rarely experienced in our day-to-day, and it enables you to get comfortable with changing what you are doing. There is no comfort in staying the wrong course. In these environments success equals survival. Once you realize you are able to clear the space around you of all “noise” including that created by ego, you are no longer frozen in fear but able to move forward.

I am reading “HIGH ALTITUDE LEADERSHIP” by Chris Warner and Don Schmincke and I highly recommend it. Leadership is tested every day in large and small ways. Team dynamics are enhanced or destroyed by fear, ego, lack of leadership etc be it at 26,000 ft or in a conference room at sea level. There are so many great passages in this book that it’s hard to pick one as an example. One that is more relevant to the business side:
“Comfort promotes politeness.
But politeness eats truth.
And lack of truth eats profits.”

Another just as relevant in extreme conditions as in those deemed more civilized:
“There is nothing pleasureable, sexy, or exciting
about taking just one more step
when your body is totally aching and exhausted,
but on the climb, it makes the critical difference
between success and failure.”

Don’t conquer the peak; Conquer yourself.

High Altitude Leadership



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