Published: | Canada

Conquer Yourself: There Are No Shortcuts To Any Place Worth Going

A keynote address drawing on my experience of climbing Kilimanjaro.

Imagine yourself on of the one highest mountains in the world. You have to deal with the physiological effects of extreme altitude — along with bone-chilling temperatures, battering winds, and a climbing team that's counting on all of its members to make smart decisions. There's simply no room for poor judgment — one mistake or misstep can result in an "unrecoverable error." In any situation where lives are on the line or the stakes are exceptionally high, there's no better training ground for leaders than settings where people are pushed beyond their perceived limits.

One thing I learned from the gruelling eight days of climb to Kilimanjaro is that there are no shortcuts to any place worth going. It turns out excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better — just like climbing or hikes, one foot after another for very long hours despite the elevation and extreme weather. Reaching the next level in your life and in business is like climbing mountains, merely a function of creating your own opportunities — one step at a time.

Drawing on my experience of climbing Kilimanjaro I did a keynote address at a sales conference recently — entitled 'Conquer Yourself'. I got the inspiration to start writing this speech at Kogatende airstrip while staring at the gravel runway waiting for our plane to take us to Gibbs Farm in Ngorongoro Crater. As I reflected on the climb to Kilimanjaro — I couldn’t help but to think that mountain climbing is somehow symbolic in life and even in business. It’s not the triumph — but the struggle.

I wanted to make the connection and a compelling case that the mountain climbing principles that apply in the world of extreme adventure also apply to today's rigorously competitive business environments — and, life in general. Excellence will never be obtained in anyone’s life. Successful people know that the pursuit of excellence is not the path to perfection. However, creating excellence is about constant and never-ending improvement of oneself like long, arduous mountain climbing — constant and never ending.

Though my talk was company specific, I believe it contains elements that may help you personally and professionally.

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