A Guide to Reaching Life’s Summits:
This bit of wisdom was found on Zen Habits: a guest post by Scott Dinsmore
Pack light. Every unnecessary piece of gear complicates things and detracts from the experience. Aside from the bare necessities, things do not make life better. They often cause more stress and keep you from what’s most important. The lighter your pack the better. Life is too short to be burdened with excessive possessions, emotional baggage or regrets. Positive thoughts, relationships and experiences weigh nothing at all. Pile them on and leave the rest behind. They’ll lift you to the top.
Take one step at a time. Any major accomplishment can be broken down into a series of single steps. If your summit is too intimidating, break it into smaller steps. Focus on those one by one. Eventually one step will be the one that puts you on top.
Don’t go at it alone. When climbing, a partner is a must. For safety, support, camaraderie, motivation and simply to share the journey. You’d be silly (and putting yourself in great danger) to go up alone. Life is meant to be experienced with others. It makes the valleys shallower and the peaks higher. Relationships magnify experiences and help you do things that prove impossible alone. Don’t leave home without your support team.
Listen to the experts. While we all ought to experience our own paths, it’s foolish not to learn from and observe the guidance of experts. Choose your life models wisely and keep them close by on your journey.
Slow down. As Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia says, “It’s about how you got there. Not what you’ve accomplished.” Despite what colleagues and competitors may tell you, there is no rush. Rushing on the mountain risks slipping, not acclimating to thinning air, exhaustion and possibly death. In life the biggest risk is that you miss the wonders of everyday experiences in your pursuit to the top. The top is secondary to the process.
Look back and take in the view. There’s never any guarantee that you’ll get to the top, but you always have the ability to stop, take in a deep breath, smile and enjoy the view-whether it’s miles of wilderness or two feet of fog. It’s all wonderful. Every moment of life is a new view to appreciate.
Save some energy for the trip down. Things will inevitably take longer than expected. Don’t be discouraged. Budget your capital, energy and drive appropriately. Rarely is anything in life an all out sprint. Treat it like a marathon. You may need your reserves when you least expect it.
Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory. These are Ed Viesturs’ famous words; the first U.S. man to summit all 14 peaks above 8,000 meters with no bottled oxygen. The summit will be there tomorrow and likely so will yours. If more planning, a stronger team or more support is required, then save the summit for a time when the payout is safer and more probable. If you are outmatched, know when to turn back, only to return stronger and more savvy tomorrow. Stay objective and don’t let short-term excitement get in the way of long-term fulfillment.
Failure is a part of the process. Be ok with not reaching the summit every time. Falling short is inevitable. You will never learn more than from your failures…at anything. Embrace them.
A daunting summit is nothing more than a challenge. A challenge is simply an opportunity in disguise. You won’t summit every one you come across, but you will become a better person with each attempt.
There will always be another mountain. You are not meant to conquer them all. Past summits are simply preparing you for the next. With the right strategy, you’ll put the top within reach. When your summit arrives, you will be ready.
*For the complete article – where the author reflects on a recent climb of Mt. Shasta – go to Zen Habits and search ‘How to Summit life’s everyday mountains by Scott Dinsmore.
*That’s me – with my hand touching the summit marker of Long’s Peak, Colorado just after reaching the top at 12:40pm on August 22, 2007; 14,259′. That’s FOURTEEN THOUSAND, two hundred and fifty-nine feet. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done and one of the best!