When Your Client Climbs Mt. Kilimanjaro

tanya geisler impostor complex

...you’ll want to know one thing.


How did he DO it?

So of course I asked.

And he shared generously and fully.

Lo and behold, he shared the six steps to doing ANYTHING remarkable (which loosely translated is the “Step into Your Starring Role” process…but this is his story, not mine,)

  1. Set the goal. Make sure it’s aligned and that it’s YOURS...and no one else’s.
  2. Prepare for the obstacles. And for him, there were three distinct levels of preparedness required:

  • Physical conditioning.

  • Getting the right gear.

  • Acclimatization. (Four days prior to the final ascent, they did a pre-trek walk to get used to it all. The altitude, the lack of cellular service, the cold...all of it.)

      3. Get the help...lean fully into the guides who are devoted to your success.

      4. Remind yourself all the times you did something terrifying and came out the other side (or on top, as it were.)

      5. Grind it out. Right foot, left foot, right foot, left foot. No shortcuts.

      6. CELEBRATE. Reallllllly root into the magnitude of the accomplishment.

So this is all formidable and incredible to hear and I wanted no details spared. The highest I’ve ever climbed was the CN Tower...and it’s possible that I’ve reimagined history, and in fact, that I’ve only ever walked down...not up. Oy.

But what intrigued me the most in his recounting of the experience was the reverence that he had for the guides who lead them safely up, then down the mountain.

My client is a LEADER, through and through. A tremendously likeable person with strong opinions and high integrity, so I leaned in to hear more about what he perceived in his Kilimanjaro guides. I knew it would tell me everything I needed to know about him..to help him get to where he wants to be.

"Because what we admire in others tells us all we need to know about what’s available to us. With some attention."


He said that the guides had the group set off in the middle of the night so that the climb wouldn’t get too hot in the mid-day. But my client suspects that it was so that climbers wouldn’t be able to see the peak of the mountain in the dark and lose their cool knowing how far they still had to climb.

Lesson: 1 Good leaders hold the vision for the group.

Over the course of the climb, the guides uttered one consistent refrain...like a mantra: “pole, pole” which is Swahili for “slowly, slowly.” Everyone can climb quickly at lower altitudes. But over the entirety of 19,000 feet, fewer, slower steps will get you there faster. And more safely.

Lesson 2: Good leaders know the dangers of rushing. One deliberate foot in front of the next is the way to climb any mountain.

After about 4 hours of climbing, at around 5am when the group was tired and feeling like the climb was relentless, as if on cue, the guides began to sing. Like, really sing. Full-chested deeply spiritual singing that reverberated off the mountains and into the canyons. Lifting them up, up, up.

Lesson 3: Good leaders know how to lift the spirits of their team. They know how to show up and model what is possible, what is hopeful, what is helpful and what is resonant.

You can see why my dear client held such reverence for these guides, yes?

I’ve got some mountains of my own to climb these days. We all do. It’s helpful to me to remember to pay attention to those I also admire.

And then to drink deeply from those observations and remember that what I admire in them, I have available to me. As do you.


In the Spotlight with Tanya Geisler, featuring Vanessa Mentor

Vanessa Mentor moves in the world as a Black Haitian Woman, Mom, Words Lover & Story Catalyst. She strongly believes that we all come to earth with the inner wisdom and personal resources that we need to live life with more grace and ease. Through her work, Vanessa creates sacred practices & experiences for women in their 40's who've left their person behind and now want to Become & Live Unrestrained in their Body + Mind + Soul.

In the Spotlight with Tanya Geisler: Tanya's Solo Show!

This week, I’m hosting ITS SOLO. I’m answering ALLLLL of your Q’s on the areas of my life that rankle my own Impostor Complex: parenting, speaking, coaching, business. The things that matter the most to me. Ask me ANYTHING about those topics. I'll bring it. With prosecco.

For my Birthday, donate $50 to the cause you believe in and receive the Starring Role Playbook.


“How many things am I supposed to care about?”

I was hunched over the green bin scraping in pesto pasta with the other organics when this thought came in out of nowhere.

“How many things am I supposed to care about?”

When that thought came in, I was thinking about the shitshow that is DACA.
I was thinking about the approach of Irma and praying for the folx in the vulnerable islands of the Caribbean. 
I was thinking about my man who was over in the UK collaborating with his peers at the International Red Cross. They were up essentially around the clock sending out appeals for support for Harvey victims, and battening down the hatches for Irma and her followers Jose and Maria.
I was thinking about the wildfires out west.
I was thinking about hateful and hate-filled cowards with Home Depot tiki torches.
I was thinking about my Dad and cancer research.
I was thinking about missing and murdered Indigenous women here in Canada.
I was thinking about the absolute vitriol in my community over the installation of bike lanes!

I was thinking about all of….heinousness...as I unconsciously scooped the last of the pesto pasta that I had warmed up for my kid’s lunch into the green bin because it wouldn’t all fit in her thermos. 

So why was I throwing it away? 

Because my fridge was packed with leftover foods. Yes...it was PACKED with tupperware containers stuffed with butter chicken and homemade caesar salad dressing and crispy ginger beef and pancake batter and veggie sandwich meat and steamed beans that there was no way we were going to get to before the garbage pickup so we sure wouldn’t need to save that last bit of pesto pasta.

So I threw it away.

When there are millions upon millions of people without food currently and a massive imbalance of food supply (that works in my favour). 

And the truth is this: as a white, cis-gender, able-bodied, middle class woman living in Canada,  EVERYTHING works in my favour

And so out of the blue, from a place deep within me that I don’t know well, clearly a place that responds to injustice with defensive snarkiness formed this thought and sent it up the flagpole of my spine to my brain:

“How many things am I supposed to care about?” 

Friends, I tell you this. In all truth: I had to sit down. It’s like I had punched myself in my own gut.

“How many things am I supposed to care about?”

And another voice spoke. And she said: “Try...ALL of them.”

What am I supposed to DO about them? “Whatever you can.”

Ah. That.

And I sat on that floor and thought about all I was and wasn’t doing. All I was and wasn’t saying. And all of the places I was and wasn’t learning, striving, helping, resisting.

And then I thought about what I KNOW.

That we are in a mess. 

That we need leadership and we need everybody's gifts and we need to be pulling together and contributing. 

And that there are latent leaders among us too afraid to say and do and help and resist. Too overwhelmed. Too...something.

But here’s where I am.

I have something to contribute around how you develop the internal capacities to Step into your Starring Role and be a Leader, and contribute and create change.
Where I'm lacking is in my analysis of system structures, oppression and other people's experiences, but I am 100% committed. 
So here's what I'm doing. I'm seeking out leaders. I'm enrolling in courses. I'm reading everything I can get my hands on. This is important to me and it is happening. What I don't have yet to contribute is that analysis. And I most certainly do not have a ready-made analysis to hand to you. (This came from a very fruitful conversation with Kelly Diels, BTW. She's got important things to say on this.)
But it’s my birthday today and I have something to offer you...if you’ll meet me halfway.

You contribute $50 to a cause that you care about between now and midnight EST, October 2, 2017. ANY cause that is meaningful to you. ANY cause that calls you forward and inspires deeper service. BLM. Red Cross. Planned Parenthood. Doctors without Borders. ACLU. Indspire. Your food bank (they prefer money to food, you know.)

Then email me the receipt. Screenshot it, whatever, and we will send you access to the 11-week Starring Role Playbook (value $300 USD). This way, one of the places that needs help, GETS help. And you receive one of the tools that you need (yes, NEED) to develop yourself as a leader and Step into your Starring Role, and contribute your gifts to this culture that so desperately needs changing, and we work together to keep building our analyses and we stay committed and we do the work. 


We've got this.

Once again:


And if you run a community, circle up together and raise money for the cause you all believe in, send me the receipt for your total contribution and for every $50 raised, you’ll receive a Playbook.

The Impostor Complex.
It’s actually much of the same stuff.
They can stop you.
The best of you.
The best of us.

It’s what we do next that matters.

In the Spotlight with Tanya Geisler, featuring Tiffany Han

Hand raiser and yes sayer, Tiffany Han is a branding strategist for highly-creative women and host of the Raise Your Hand Say Yes podcast and co-host of the How to be Remarkable podcast. The love child of Terry Gross and Don Draper, she crafts programs and resources that not only help female entrepreneurs be more successful in their creative business but also have as much fun as possible. In her spare time (ha!), she starts as many dance parties as she can with her husband and twin daughters. They live in the San Francisco Bay Area. Find out more at tiffanyhan.com and go behind the scenes on Instagram @thetiffanyhan.