What’s Your “Kili”? Three Thoughts on Climbing Your Highest Peak
Lou’s idea of a long hike was a walk to the grocery store and back. In January of 2016 he set a goal to “Conquer Kili.” With no gear, zero hiking
experience, and no concept of the enormity of his decision, he decided to climb Africa’s tallest peak (Kilimanjaro), which tops out at a breathtaking 19,340
feet above the valley floor.
Lou accomplished his goal in October.
Here are three takeaways from Lou’s achievement:
1. Focus, Purpose, Passion
Any goal worth claiming requires tremendous focus. Lou’s goal of climbing Kilimanjaro was big enough to require his full attention. It perfectly fit his
life purpose to push boundaries and it generated a tremendous amount of passion within him and his friends.
Two mistakes we often make personally and professionally are to set too many goals, and to set goals about which nobody but you really care. With too many
goals, we lose focus and often achieve none. And, many of these goals are, to be blunt, boring.
Boring: Increase revenue by 75%
With purpose: Every employee ends the year with a 10% bonus [You’ll need that 75% revenue boost to achieve this goal]
Boring: Double our sales volume and customer base
With purpose: Make the Business Journal’s Fastest Growing Company List
Boring: Get into the best shape of my life
With purpose: Conquer Kili
2. Go Together
One of Lou’s favorite quotes is the African proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Lou announced his
goal to his tribe. His passion became their passion. Within a week, he had a coach. Within two weeks a core hiking group formed to take daily and
weekly hikes together.
When Lou said, “This seems too easy,” his coach and team stepped up the pace, pushing Lou to his limit with every hike. One of his fellow hikers
inevitably joined Lou on his final trek to the top of Kilimanjaro.
To achieve any big business goal, you need your entire company rowing in the same direction. It’s not your goal. It becomes everyone’s goal. You
push, prod, encourage, and cajole each other to the top. You start with your leadership team, and then involve everyone in your company. Lou and each of
his cadre of hikers posted weekly updates on Facebook. Complete strangers would ask when he’d make his climb.
3. “Never give up, never surrender”
“Never give up, never surrender”
is a line from the movie Galaxy Quest, a spoof of the original Star Trek series. Against all odds, a group of has-been actors saves an
intergalactic race from annihilation.
There are two keys to conquering your intergalactic foe, never giving up, and never surrendering:
Have a plan
Lou didn’t start with a plan, and he hadn’t a clue on how to proceed. By enlisting his tribe in his quest, he found the expertise, built his team,
and developed a plan.
Achieving a big goal requires a fluid, flexible plan. In Lou’s case, they started small, realized they weren’t pushing the edges, picked up the pace, and gradually worked their way to ever-increasing mileposts.
The plan called for clearly defined mileposts. First, they’d hike to Council Crest. Then, Hamilton Mountain at 2400 feet, Dog Mountain at 2900, and
eventually Mt. Defiance, with almost 5,000 feet of elevation gain in just over six miles.
Big goals require perseverance, which in turn require accountability and discipline. Unfortunately, accountability and discipline aren’t downloadable apps.
Weekly progress updates and a bit of natural peer pressure kept Lou and his team on track. “I’m sore, too. But, we said we’d go all the way to the top, so let’s keep going.”
In EOS, we meet weekly to share our progress and solve issues. We review our strategy, plan, and milestone goals quarterly. This Meeting Pulse
maintains traction, while increasing accountability and discipline.
I can guarantee there were times Lou questioned his sanity, especially on the long slog to the top of Mt. Defiance. Big goals are, and should be scary.
It’s easy to surrender to the inevitability of defeat or give up in the face of failure.
But, ah… that feeling when you reach the top is worth every ache and pain you experienced on the journey.