As the end of the year approaches, I like to reminisce and reflect about the personal and professional goals I set for the year. I typically start this process in November, hoping that I might still have time to accomplish all my goals before the guilt-ridden New Year’s Resolution phase kicks in!
Some of us probably do better than others at setting and achieving goals. Out of the many different goal-setting best practices, I have found that being realistic in your expectations is the most important component. And let’s be real, reaching a major goal or overcoming a major challenge can be difficult. But so worth it! I am reminded of that fact whenever I think of a story I heard on the radio several years ago.
I was driving late one night for an early visit with a client the next day. The area was desolate, making it hard to find a channel on the radio that came in clearly. I finally stumbled on a talk radio show where the host was interviewing a woman who had recently climbed Mount Everest. Note that I am not a mountain climber and was pretty naïve about how one even goes about climbing a mountain! I knew that it wasn’t easy, it is steep and dangerous, but I assumed the process itself was pretty straightforward. You start out, camp for the night, and then repeat those first two steps until you reach the top. Was I wrong!
The 29,035 foot climb takes two months and starts out fairly simply. The starting point of Phakding is at 8,701 feet and is not a terribly technical hike. The woman described it as a beautiful hike through towns, in which you shared the paths with locals and day tourists.
The process really begins once you reach Base Camp at 17,500 feet. You stay there for a few days: waiting for others to arrive, getting to know your Sherpa, and most importantly, getting your body acclimated to the altitude. So far, the process still made sense to me.
Once ready, you climb to Camp 1 at 19,898 feet, then to Camp 2 at 21,325 feet. Once you reach Camp 2, you turn around and head back to Base Camp. What?! Why?! This step of the process just blew my mind. She was so close to her goal. Why not just go for it?! And certainly don’t look back, let alone GO back.
But what the voice on the radio told me was if you don’t do this, you will fail and most likely die. Your body needs to go back down to learn how to digest food, how to sleep and how to think at this high of an altitude. Going back to Base Camp allows your body to adjust and build the strength needed to reach the summit.
After a few days at Base Camp, you climb back up to Camp 3 then back to Base Camp. Only when the weather is right and you are physically ready, then can you push toward the summit. This happens at about 11:00 PM – you get up, climb all night, reach the summit at dawn and watch the sunrise to reward you for your efforts.
So why did this story, something I will never do, stay with me for so long? I thought it was the most frustrating story I have ever heard. I thought I would never be able to have that type of dedication, with all the back and forth and seemingly time wasted. But it hit me – this is no different than my world, or yours. It isn’t a waste of time at all – it is a necessary process for success.
The results that we achieve go through the same pattern. In order to “reach the summit” you have to understand the environment you are working in (acclimate to the altitude), seek out experts to guide you (a Sherpa), and sometimes go back to the beginning to ensure you are still on the right path (revisit Base Camp).
With each step and with each new initiative, you are stronger and smarter than you were before. The fleet industry is filled with Sherpas who are happy to be your guide and provide advice on how to proceed towards your goals. Be a Sherpa to one another and let’s just see what heights we can all achieve!
GPS tracking of an Everest climber:
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This article was originally published on Fleet Management Weekly.