My friends Jimmy and Susan Thai love the outdoors. Together with their friends and business partners, they run a chain of first class outdoor travel gear and from time to time would bring their company people to do outdoor activities like mountain climbing, trekking, hiking etc. Every time I observe Jimmy talk about his outdoor activities and adventures I can see his eyes brighten up.
We are so different Jimmy and I. My own personal travel adventures would cover airport terminals to hotel ballrooms and bedrooms and back to airport terminals again. Not exactly “outdoorish” I would say. And so I got a little curious about mountain climbing. While watching a video of some mountain climbers and their attempt at climbing Mt. Everest, I learned some important lessons in life.
First, the climbers had to get acclimated at a lower altitude before they dared climb to the summit. This actually took several weeks while they allowed their bodies to adjust to the lower oxygen content of the high altitudes. Over time, their bodies actually produced more red blood cells to compensate for the lack of oxygen. They said that if they took a person from sea level directly to the top of Mt. Everest, that the person would die in just minutes because their bodies could not handle the lack of oxygen. But let them acclimate at a lower altitude first, and then they would be able to survive. The whole team climbing Mt. Everest had to get acclimated. Even though most of the team would not actually reach the summit themselves, if they were to be of any help, they had to be acclimated as well. Finally, the climbers in the video didn’t waste time making their way to the base of the mountain. They rode a helicopter directly to the base so that they could begin their climb without delay.
This packs a lot of life lessons for one’s climb to success.
Some people climb the ladder of success too high and too soon they never got themselves acclimated first and pretty soon they hit their own demise. What are the signs of their demise?
A certain numbness creeps in. You need to understand that the higher you climb the thinner the air gets. It affects your ear with pressure and it affects your eyesight. I know people who are in this condition. Suddenly success has numbed their feelings toward their friends who have helped them get there. Their ears could not hear what people are telling them. They only want to hear what they want to hear and their eyes are so weak they cannot see the people down there. This is called: Air-rogance!
You hear them say:
- “Had it not been for ME, then he or she would not have been successful!”
- “I was the one who thought about it in the first place.”
- “No one does it better than ME.”
- “It was MY efforts that made it successful.”
- “I did it my way….” The most famous song in videoke bars and maybe this is why the song starts with the line, “And now…the end is near…”
Soon these climbers lose their friends, those who have invested their lives and trust in them. Soon the climbers surround themselves with equal climbers who play the same game. Soon the climbers begin to believe their own press releases. They suffer from what a trainer friend calls “Imemytis.” It’s a terrible sickness made up of “I+ME+MY Virus.” And it’s just a matter of time when the climbers begin their painful crash and descent.
The story is tragic. I see the same plot happening with only a change in characters. And it always saddens me to see how true the Bible has to say about things like these: Pride comes before destruction and haughtiness comes before a fall.”
Why is this tragic? Because God disappears from their equation of success.
Famous author Jim Collins says that great leaders in business or institutions show a great sense of humility. And I bet you that behind their humble spirit is a realization that the successful person does not deserve what he or she has today yet God’s Grace has so bountifully provided. Another sign of humility is that these truly successful people always consider others better than themselves and this is why they continue to learn and they continue to progress.
Go outdoors. Climb the mountains but make sure you get acclimatized first with humility and thankfulness. They’re tools for long term success sustainability and they are the needed tools for life.