Why climbing a mountain is the ultimate metaphor for business success
I thought of this blog post title and content on the climb up Moel Siabod in Snowdonia and I am writing this blog post from the summit. I thought it would be a good place to think clearly although the extra weight of carrying my laptop made teh journey slightyl more difficult.
I think we have all seen the inspirational posters where people are stood at the top of a mountain with their arms in the air looking jubilant. You might think this is a cheesy metaphor and if so, maybe you haven’t climbed a mountain recently.
Here are the reasons why I think climbing mountains is not just a good metaphor, it’s the ultimate one for business success.
You have a clearly defined outcome
You are going to get to the top. That’s all there is to it and your outcome is simple, well defined and achievable. You are going to get to the top of the mountain and get a selfie (or is that just me) and celebrate. Now compare that to your business, do you know what your outcome is and if you do, do you know when you have won and when you can celebrate?
Preparation is key
You have to make sure you are fully prepared for your journey and have planned for all eventualities. Having a clear and defined strategy for what you are about to do is essential for both business and climbing a mountain. Do you know the route you are going to take, have you looked into things that might go wrong so you can mitigate this challenges?
I am not talking about writing a business plan that you write once and never look at again. I am talking about a defined strategy for how you will accomplish your outcome that you review as often as possible, preferably daily. Like the mountain climber needs to review their map often to make sure they are on the correct path, you need to review your strategy as often as possible.
You need to have the right equipment
Alongside having a great strategy is having the right equipment for the job. Equipment doesn’t just mean what you wear or what you take with you, it also refers to your mentality. What you bring with you along the journey makes a big difference to how you will cope along the way especially at difficult points. If you can bring along a positive ‘whatever it takes’ mentality then the journey will be easier.
Having the right equipment also refers to not bringing along unnecessary items along the journey which will way you down. This can apply to debts and other financial commitments that you could avoid. Do you really need that new TV or MacBook when the current version will do the same job? The key is to travel as light and as agile as you can, it makes such a difference to the decisions you will make along the way.
There is a path already there where someone else has done what you are doing
Nearly every mountain in the world has been conquered and so there is a clear path to the top. In classic NLP modelling, look for someone who has done what you are doing and copy their path to success. Look for the exact path they have taken and then take the same route to get the same result. The mountain I have just climbed had footprints in the mud indicating where other people have trod. Look hard and you will see where other people have laid out the path for you to follow.
At the start, you are super keen and you need to pace yourself
Sometimes it’s hard to kerb your enthusiasm, you are just getting started and are all excited and ready to rock. Now is the time to keep your long-term strategy in mind and to pace yourself so you don’t run out of steam half way along your journey. Know what you need do to achieve your outcome in as much detail as possible so then you know what speed to go at, it will stop you from burning out.
You can’t always see the top but you have to keep on pushing
The journey to the top doesn’t always have a visible end line, just like you can’t always see the top of the mountain you are climbing up. You have to see the bigger picture and visualise the end line in your mind so you stay committed to achieving your outcome. You will often have to work or walk a long way to see your target, don’t let that phase you, just keep going and don’t give up.
You need to have fun along the way
You have to enjoy your journey, regardless of how hard it is and this often comes down to your mental approach to the situation. For me today this meant taking on the Daear Ddu Ridge and scrambling up the mountain rather than going the easy route. It was exhilarating. Always find time to stop and have fun along the way as the outcome isn’t the only time where you should enjoy yourself.
It’s hardest in the final 10 %
This is when the fatigue is really kicking in and the journey seems the hardest. The legs are full of lactic acid and you are breathing hard. Now is the time that you would be inclined to quit (if you were not on the way up a mountain) as this is where the biggest pain is. In fact, now is the time to push harder as the end is in sight. When the going gets though, just keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep going, you will get there.
You don’t stop until you reach the top
When you are climbing up a mountain, you are fully committed to reaching the top and you keep going, even when in pain, to reach the summit. Do you do this in business or do you quit when the going gets hard? This is where you must treat your business outcomes like climbing a mountain so you have a 100% commitment to reaching the top and you go all in. If I quit when the going got hard up a mountain then I wouldn’t get to the top of anything. Instead, I embrace the pain and know that it is essential for me achieving my outcome.
It’s lonely at the top
A lot of people won’t put the effort in to reach the top, they will continue to do the same things that have gotten them to this point without taking the next steps to greatness. At the top of Siabod today I only saw 2 other people in the 4 hours I was out there for and this is a prominent mountain in the Snowdonia national park. Loneliness sometimes has negative connotations, in this case, you are lonely as there is less competition at the top as fewer people have reached that level. All of the competition is at the level that most people are playing at so once you rise above that you instantly have fewer people competing with you.
When you get to the top you get the reward
Yes!! You have got to the top of the mountain and now you get the full 360 view of everything around you and it looks and feels spectacular. This is what you have been working for all this time and it’s important to celebrate this and also bank this feeling so you remember how it feels. If you can imagine this feeling whilst along the journey in as much detail as possible then it will help when the going gets hard and you don’t think you are going to make it. The reward is coming if you stick to the process and it will knock your socks off.
Now, how do I get down off this mountain…