Climbing Your Mountains

Over the years, I became a mountaineer, climbing peaks across the globe. When I descended Mount Kilimanjaro in 2004, it hit me like a lightning bolt: mountain climbing is a metaphor for people’s careers. Both require the same core steps in order to succeed:

  1. Set a goal
  2. Take one step at a time—no shortcuts to the top
  3. You can’t do it alone—collaborate your way to the top

It was so gratifying to apply my work lessons to our team’s climbing objectives. Working with others and helping them to reach the summit became a pivotal turning point for me. I am heavily influenced by the Law of Reciprocity, which states: “The best way to climb the ladder of success is to bring others with you.”

In this world of mountaineering and motivation, I came across a quote from American writer and mountaineer James Ramsey Ullman, which has since become a mantra of strength and motivation to those I teach and coach. He once wrote: “Challenge is the core and the mainspring of all human activity. If there’s an ocean, we cross it; if there’s a disease, we cure it; if there’s a wrong, we right it; if there’s a record, we break it; and finally, if there’s a mountain, we climb it.”

Challenge is at the core of what drives us—it causes men and women to strive to achieve greater heights in their lives both personally and professionally. As I’ve approached challenges in my life and watched others overcome theirs, I’ve come to understand that the need for effective communication is critical.

While climbing in Alaska in 2013 with ten others, the metaphor of climbing your own figurative mountains reignited my passion and sense of purpose. I decided right then and there to form my own consulting practice and help others achieve success by teaching them to communicate passionately and persuasively. I also became a professor of organizational leadership at Mercy College in New York, where I dedicate much of my time to teaching undergraduates. I tell my students the same thing every semester: “Persuasive communication is the single most important tool needed to climb the corporate ladder of success.”

After all, one fact about career climbing is indisputable. No matter what job you have, your success will be determined:

  • 5 percent by your academic credentials
  • 15 percent by your professional experiences
  • 80 percent by your communication skills

Whether your mountain is personal or professional in nature, climbing it and ultimately conquering it will take more than skill and experience—it will take an ability to communicate persuasively and effectively with those around you. Learn more about starting your climb with the right tools by visiting

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