Climbing the Right Mountain

When I was young and foolish, my buddy Ken and I decided to test our rock-climbing skills on Mt. Cascade in the Canadian Rockies. Having done almost no research we drove to the mountain, picked out a route that looked promising, and began to climb.  Without ropes, of course.

It was all going well. Until it wasn’t. The climbing got increasingly difficult and we realized we were at the limits of our abilities and risk tolerance. Just one problem. We now had to downclimb. Hmmm, hadn’t planned for that.

At one point Ken couldn’t find the next move down and his legs started shaking from fatigue. “I don’t think I can hang on,” he yelled, his voice faltering. This, at the exact moment I was about 20 feet directly below him on the rock face. Which meant if he were to fall, he would crash into me and send us both plummeting off the mountain and into the obituaries section of the annual alpine journal.

Fortunately, Ken was able to steady himself, find the next move, and with considerable anxiety we were able to downclimb to the base. At which point we noticed for the first time the memorial plaques bolted to the rocks for the climbers who had lost their lives there.

The point? It’s easy for you and your team to get jacked up about a goal. Just make sure it’s the right goal. Know your capabilities. Know the risks. Do the research up front. Be clear on why it’s the right goal.

One more thing. Have a strategy for retreat and know when to trigger it. It may keep you out of the obituaries section of the annual business journal.

Your thoughts?


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