“Choosing to go after something worthwhile is the first step in the journey uphill” – Dr. John C. Maxwell.
My anticipation for spring is always palpable. The blooming of flowers, buzzing of insects, and the return of outdoor running and family activities gets me excited like a child during Christmas. Watching the entry of a new season never gets old. The sights and sounds of it signal something new is on the horizon. I even noticed the increase of the people at the garden center of my local hardware store as they make purchases to bring their gardens back to life. I wonder how a mountaineer feels at the bottom of a mountain before they ascend it. Are they nervous? confident? excited? scared? Do they take a deep breath of fresh air as many of us do on a beautiful spring day?
Mountain climbing is not only relegated to the physical ones like Mt. Everest. We are mountaineers in life when we pursue dreams, goals, and new habits such as quitting drugs and alcohol, getting in better mental, physical and emotional health, starting a business, rebuilding a business or career after the colossal losses relating to the pandemic, a new job opportunity, going back to school, relocating, restoring a broken relationship, starting off in marriage, or starting a family. These are all uphill hopes that require climbing. “Everything worthwhile is uphill,” says leadership expert and best-selling author Dr. John C. Maxwell. He continues with this observation; “Too many people don’t seem to want to climb a hill. They just want to wait at the bottom and let whatever is at the top roll down to them!” If Dr. Maxwell framed this statement into a question he would ask, “Are you a climber or a camper?”
Climber or Camper
The excitement of spring springs many of us into action. My wife loves gardening. As spring approaches, she begins sharing with me what she wants to plant for the season. But she doesn’t stop or camp there. She begins planning and organizing, and soon enough she is outside in the garden preparing the soil for planting. Believe me, preparing a garden is hard work. I have never done it, but I have watched from the window of our house as my wife has toiled to prepare the garden. I’m the designated water boy. I provide her water to drink and water the seeds once the planting has taken place. On some days, I get a pass from watering when it rains. I love rain.
My wife has a climber mentality. She refuses to camp at the base of good ideas and endless chatter about what she hopes to see or do. She chooses to climb with tireless effort to see her garden come to life. Because it is worthwhile. A climber mentality keeps you from coasting through life and moves you into the zone where your efforts, charted in the right direction, take you to the top of the hill where dreams, goals, and better habits are realized. A mountaineer, regardless of confidence, nervousness, or excitement, never reaches the mountain summit while remaining at its base.
Before Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary reached the peak of Mt. Everest on May 29th, 1953, several expeditions to the summit had been attempted. None succeeded. With this metric staring them in the face, Norgay and Hillary could have chosen to camp citing past failures and questioning their ability to fare any differently. Built to climb and not camp on past failures, Norgay and Hillary went on to make history. Their ascent to the top of Everest was a statement to others that although it is hard, it can be done. Since then, numerous successful expeditions to Everest’s summit have taken place.
Doing the Hard Things
Another characteristic of the climber mentality is doing the hard things. When President John F. Kennedy made the announcement to put a man on the moon he added, “But why, some say, the Moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask, why climb the highest mountain?… We choose to go to the Moon…We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard;…” JFK was stirring up the climber mentality of a nation that had camped too long on the laurels of past success and was being overtaken by other nations in the space race. Climbers choose the hard things repeatedly because they know their efforts are not wasted, but yield an abundance of positive results propelling them not only to a highly successful life but a significant one. The kind of life that encourages and inspires others to become climbers instead of campers.
Accept the Challenge
In the fictional blockbuster film Black Panther, the death of King T’Chaka and the inauguration of his son T’Challa as the new king come with an offer to anyone who wants to challenge for the throne of Wakanda. Accepting the challenge meant fighting to submission or death. Your mountain is waiting. The path to the top requires climbing. Will you accept the challenge to go uphill and get to the top of your mountain? Are you willing to die to the camper’s mentality and submit to a climber mentality by choosing to do the hard things?
This month, with your permission, I would like to serve as your CEO (Chief Encouragement Officer) using the following cluster of cheer leading points for your climb:
Fuel For the Climb (coming April 8)
Take the Hill (coming April 15)
Find A Sherpa (coming April 22)
Throwback Blog Post: Gravitational Pulls (returning April 29)
Final Thought: Seasons in life come with their fair share of mountains. The choice is ours whether to camp in the tent of our fears, excuses, past failures, and all the reasons why it cannot be done. But if it is worthwhile, then I believe the climb is worth it.
Keep on keeping on.