Waiting with anticipation and trepidation in a small tent on a wind-swept moonscape at 15200 feet elevation the night before summiting Kilimanjaro leads one to reflect on life and what matters. I thought I would share a few lessons I learned from this amazing trip.
1) Extend your comfort zone:
Despite leading a pretty adventurous life, nothing I had ever done prepared me for the extreme challenges, both physical and mental, of climbing Kili. This involved trekking for 9 days through 5 different climate zones (tropical rainforest through artic zone) and by the last day, taking one slow step followed by a breath and then rest, followed by another step, breath and rest until reaching the summit. Having completed the journey, I can honestly say that these experiences exponentially expand personal horizons and open up the possibilities one can experience once back to “everyday life”. Whatever boundaries you think you experience in your everyday work life are stretchable and can be overcome. Sometimes doing things you never thought possible opens up whole new vistas in the everyday experience. I urge you to take on a new perspective, to stretch yourself and learn or do something you haven’t done before.
2) It takes a village. Teams make all the difference:
I was joined by my 74 year old father-in-law and met 3 strong women in this trek. For the 5 of us, there were 37 porters and guides who carried literally tons of equipment and food, shared their acute knowledge of the mountain, sang songs to raise our spirits, cooked wonderful camp meals to build our strength and helped encourage each of us to reach our personal goal of summiting Kili. There is simply no way possible we could have ever reached the summit without this team of people so dedicated to common success. I urge that whatever project you currently are working on, that you share your goals and expertise with others so that you can form a team to work together to achieve your goals. The sum total of the collective will, expertise and spirit are vital to not only achieving your own personal goal, but also stoking on others to attain theirs.
3) Slow determined progress gets you to your goal:
There is a Swahili phrase called “Pole Pole,” which means “Slowly Slowly.” Throughout the adventure, we were constantly reminded to walk “Pole Pole.” Sure enough, distances that seemed insurmountable at the beginning of the day were gradually but inexorably achieved simply by placing one foot in front of the other is slow determined fashion. Truly “slow but steady” wins the race. At the end of the day we would look back down the mountain, amazed at how far we had come during that last 10 hour trek. I could never have believed what was possible just with simple drive and determination.