Lessons Found at Kilimanjaro

Eight days at address 579 Tent City. Eight days with no showers. Eight days with chemical toilets (and we were the lucky ones). One strenuous, challenging trek each day with a rest for an hour, and then another hike to acclimatize. Finally, on summit day we retired at 5:00 PM (ever tried to get to sleep at 5:00 PM?) only to rise at 11:00 PM. A quick snack with lots of calories and protein; hiking with headlamps at midnight; poley, poley (slow, slow) climbing almost 2,000 feet to 19,341 feet above sea level. Seven hours and 44 minutes later we reached the summit and celebrated our success!

We conquered Mount Kilimanjaro!

Mark another item off the Bucket List!

What does this trek really have to do
with business, you ask?

You need eight ingredients to succeed at anything, especially a trek like Kilimanjaro. Some call it Kili. Our travel doctor did as he explained the dangers to one’s body in high altitudes where air pressures are not what they are at sea level.

To succeed at the “game” of business you must:

  1. Have Motivation
  1. Have Vision
  1. Have a Play Book
  1. Have a System of Measurement
  1. Commit to continuous Training and Practice
  1. Have a Coach
  1. Concentrate on your personal or business Fitness and Nutrition
  1. Above all, have the Right Attitude!

These eight ingredients will help you achieve Greatness in business; not Mediocrity, not just “Good Enough”

The Motivation behind this was to challenge ourselves to do this and get it crossed off our bucket list.  I challenge you to decide and identify what the Motivation is behind your business.  What is your Purpose? Why are you doing what you do? What is your ultimate reason?

The Vision for my wife, Jane and I, was to summit Kilimanjaro.  That was the goal.  That was the end result. We focused on that goal every day from February 2014, when we booked the trip, until the day we achieved our Vision.

Do you have long term and short term goals for your business? Do you know where you want to be a year from now, three years from now, twenty years from now? Have you defined what your Vision is? I challenge you to choose your summit, your Vision, and decide the “what and where” of your business.

African Travel Resources and the Africa Walking Company gave us our Kilimanjaro Play Book in February 2014. It was a day by day account of what we were going to do and what we would experience. It gave us all that we needed to prepare for the trek. Sports teams have play books to guide them in their success; strategies to win and achieve greatness. Do you have a Play Book for your business to guide you and your employees through the work maze? Do you have written policies and procedures? In addition to the Play Book and many YouTube videos, The Africa Walking Company had a two hour orientation session the evening before the start of the climb to provide further training and preparation. How much orientation to your Play Book do you give your employees?

The material from the Africa Walking Company set a System of Measurement for us to follow.  Essentially, it laid out how far and how long we would trek each day in order to reach our Vision.  In business, it is so very vital to plan, with both long and short term goals and then to Measure how you are doing in reaching those goals.  Are you measuring every day, every week, and every month to indicate how you are doing?

Scaling a 19,341 foot mountain requires a high degree of fitness. We each carried a 15 kilogram backpack every day and trekked 47 kilometers uphill for eight days. This required significant Training and Practice. My wife and I trained and practiced for months, almost daily, to lose weight, build muscle mass, lung capacity and endurance. I have found in my work, that great businesses are always looking to improve, looking for better tools, bringing continuous training and practice to themselves and their employees. How much training and practice do you commit to in a year?

Passion Mushi, our Head Guide and Ewald Mini our personal Guide acted as our Coaches. To assist us over the eight days, these accomplished Coaches assessed our strengths and weakness and then encouraged and helped us conquer our fears. Every business person and employee needs a Coach, a mentor to help them achieve their goals, their summit and to hold them accountable.

Coach Ewald held me accountable to my goal when my instinct was not to scale straight up 850 feet of rock called the Barranco Wall. Do you have a Coach, a person to help build your strengths, conquer your fears and hold you accountable to your goals?

Fitness and Nutrition were key factors to a successful climbThe Kilimanjaro trek was strenuous and we had to replace about 3,000 calories per day. We required high protein foods to nourish our bodies and keep our energy levels up. Beginning the hike with the right fitness level was important to succeed.

This is true for any person in business and true for business itself, as well. How fit is your business? Do you have up-to-date premises that are efficient, well cooled or heated, that provide the right level of comfort? Do you use technology as an effective tool for you and your employees? Are the other tools that you use in good repair and do you have all the right tools? Do you encourage fitness and healthy living among those you work with?

Probably the most vital ingredient to succeed in reaching the Kili Summit is having the Right Attitude; every day, every hour and every minute. Without the right attitude, you would not scale the Barranco Wall.  Among the great people we met on our adventure were Matt and Denyse.  Matt had titanium hips and knees and Denyse was 71 years young. They both had the right attitude and conquered Kili.

The book Fish by Stephen Lundin, is a great, simple read. I have five copies and browse the book often. One thing from that simple book that is imprinted on my brain is to “choose the right attitude every day before I get up” and before I arrive at work. Find ways to inspire yourself every morning.  Find ways to instill the right culture in your workplace.  Things will become so much easier as a result.

I look back on our adventure and can say that it was not easy, but Jane and I chose to embrace these eight ingredients and in so doing conquered the world’s highest mountain that can be trekked and the highest peak in Africa.

You can, with these eight ingredients, conquer the ‘Kilimanjaros’ in your business and personal life!

Next on the Bucket List……?  Coming Soon!!

P.S. This is a friend that we met on the relaxing safari after the trek, my favorite lion picture.