Those familiar with my coaching/teaching approach know that I use mountaineering as a metaphor for the way we climb the corporate ladder. In both mountaineering and in our careers, we set goals, take one step at a time, and collaborate our way to the top.
With each climb we bring our own ability, motivation, and mind set on the way up. However, mountains are not climbed alone—neither are careers. Building a career depends on the generosity you’re willing to extend to your colleagues, known as the Law of Reciprocity. This law describes the universal understanding that in order to create success for yourself, you must extend help to others along the way. They, in turn, will assist and inspire you to reach your career summits.
Each year I take a group of my students from Mercy College School of Business to stand 5,344 feet above sea level at the summit of New York’s highest peak, Mount Marcy. After each climb, students often reflect on the fortitude, versatility, and persistence required to climb the mountain. The start usually begins at dawn and requires them to pass through different types of weather based on changes in elevation; the trek isn’t easy, often being slippery and steep at points. Many battle the effects of exhaustion experienced on the way to the top, however, all reach the summit. Having the opportunity to bring this metaphor to life on an actual mountain with students has been life changing for many, including myself.
Students often state it was hard, it was difficult, it was taxing. But then they ask, “when’s our next mountain?” As a professor of leadership studies and the director of the undergraduate honors program at Mercy College’s school of business, I have found success in not only leveraging my time on Wall Street, but also in sharing my experiences as an accomplished mountaineer. It gives individuals a chance to discover their own strength and ability to achieve hard things. As a result, they begin their careers with a new-found sense of fortitude, versatility, and persistence—the very ingredients needed to scale the highest peaks.
Determine the mountain(s) you want to climb in this new year—it may not hurt to actually get into the outdoors and experience some actual hiking; you’d be surprised how that sense of accomplishment will follow you back into your office. Remember the three components that I mentioned:
- Set goals—If you don’t know where you’re headed, who knows where you’ll end up? Don’t leave things to chance; determine what you want to accomplish and chart the course to get there.
- Take one step at a time—Marathons can’t be run without training; concertos can’t be played without practicing. Each significant goal takes individual steps of patience, practice, and persistence. One step at a time, one milestone at a time. Each step forward is a success that will bring you closer to your end goal.
- Don’t go it alone—Surround yourself with those who can help you reach greater heights. Learn from them. Learn the good, the not-so-good, and be observant to the qualities of those who continue to climb higher.
We all want to go the same general direction in our careers—up. That journey, and the leaps you need to make, are uniquely yours. For more resources to leverage for your next “climb” visit, http://www.outdoors.org/trip-ideas-tips-resources/plan-your-trip/nh-4000-footers/hiking-mount-washington.cfm.
When you return and want to add another proverbial climb that will assist your career ascension, visit http://www.marshallgoldsmith.com/product/book-2/ and read Marshall Goldsmith’s great book, “What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There.”