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