5 Things I learned in the Himalayas about business - Thing #2
Updated: Nov 1, 2022
2. You Can’t See the Summit from Basecamp.
Business Translation: Your passion, purpose, and plans have to move you forward and keep you focused until you can see your ultimate goal. In what must be one of the biggest ironies of mountain climbing, you cannot see the Summit from basecamp. It's frustrating, really, but the truth is when you’re right up against the base of the mountain and the Summit is thousands of feet or meters above you, you simply can’t see it. What makes it even more disappointing is that you typically have had glorious views of the Summit as you trekked towards it. You’ve had the opportunity to examine the Summit in great detail for hours at a time and it’s been quite exciting to see the route up to the Summit and imagine yourself making your way to the top. But when you get to basecamp, all of that disappears and all you can see are towering granite walls and glacial icefalls seemingly straight up above you. The obvious route to the top is no longer obvious - it’s disappeared. Furthermore, it’s not even clear which way to go just to start climbing.
It’s ironic: the Summit and the way to the top are easily seen from far away but impossible to see from up close.
(the picture is from the helipad at the far end of Mt Everest basecamp. You can just barely see a sliver of Mt Everest if you look at the "V" between the two mountains)
However,……it doesn’t really make any difference whether you can see it or not. You are going! You’re there because you’ve dreamed about climbing this mountain for a long time. You’ve prepared, trained, and sacrificed to get to this place. There’s no question you’re going to do everything you can possibly do to get to the top. You are pursuing your dream, your life goal, and now you have a real shot at achieving it. Of COURSE you’re going!
What I learned about Business from this is there is a great similarity of the “see-it-from-far-away-but-can’t-see-it-up-close” aspect of mountain climbing to business goals. Whether it’s a career goal you’ve had for a long time or you are starting up a business like I am with my friend Vince. Things that seemed so clear when you were making plans can suddenly be not clear at all. Maybe things you hadn’t considered come up, like potentially productive opportunities or additional ways of providing services to your customers. There could be alternate paths that only open up once you have started, like a leader you’re speaking with about one role suggests they’d be interested in hiring you for a different role, or a potential customer shows interest in having you do work for them very different from what you are proposing. Perhaps outside events intervene to move your attention in a different direction, such as a market consolidation which dramatically changes the competitive landscape. There are many unforeseen things that can happen around you that can take your eyes off of where you want to go.
That’s a good time to step back and remember the view you had of your ultimate goal before you started. Remember the path to achieving your goal that you spent hours, days, and weeks carefully thinking through, the detailed plans you made, the passion and excitement you had about pursuing it, and quite frankly, the almost overwhelming eagerness you had to just get started.
Take time to remember all of that. In all likelihood, those original ideas are just as good as when you first thought of them and none of the things happening around you has changed any of it - you can still pursue your original goal and dream. Let that original vision re-focus you. Let it excite you and keep moving you forward towards your goal, and eventually, as you make your way up your “mountain”, you’ll find that path to the top you know is there.