A few weeks ago, I heard Chris Warner speak. Chris is one of America’s most renowned mountaineers having summited five of the worlds’ tallest peaks including both Everest and K2. He also is an entrepreneur (the founder and President of Earth Treks, Inc.), publisher and speaker sharing the lessons that he has learned on leadership through his many expeditions. In 2007, he led the Shared Summits expedition successfully summiting K2 and proceeded to produce an Emmy award-winning film about the expedition.
His message in his talk was a good one. He spoke in reference to his journey to the top of K2. Other athletes on other teams abandoned some of their friends, didn’t help others succeed and even stole equipment from his team. Alternatively, his team’s approach was different. They helped others to succeed and stay safe. Some of these choices to help others along the way caused additional hardship to Chris’s team. But, in the end, they completed a successful climb that they are proud of until this day. My favorite quotation was:
Don’t get to the top of the peak you are climbing and not be proud of the way that you got there. – Chris Warner
There are a few reasons why this resonated with me so much:
- Often times as a goal-oriented person, it can be easy to see my individual choices and actions as a means to achieve the end goal. Instead, what I constantly have to remind myself is that the journey is what I will remember and learn from. It is what builds my life. Without remembering this, I can get too focused on the end and not enjoy the process of getting there.
- My gut instinct is so often right. In my life, there have been moments where I didn’t feel good about a decision I made. My gut often times was telling me in the moment to make a different decision, or to reverse my course. Sometimes I listened, sometimes I didn’t. Luckily, these decisions were small and time passed with no consequence. However, despite the lack of consequence, I have regretted not trusting my instinct and reversing my course if for nothing but the knowledge that it would’ve been the right thing to do.
- I only have one life to live. How I live this life, or in Chris’s case how he climbed K2, is the ultimate reflection of my character. I try my hardest to do what is right at every turn, to make choices that I would be proud of my children knowing that I made.