The Climb to Success
Articles Inspirational articles from Hay House authors
The Climb to SuccessKnow your base and summit.
Colorado has 53 fourteeners.
What’s a fourteener? you might ask.
It’s a rocky mountain that has an elevation over 14,000 feet. These are big, beautiful mountains that reach far into Colorado’s crystal-clear blue skies.
Each summer, beginning when I was seven years old, my Dad would get the whole family together, including my brother, sister and Mom, and we’d all pile into our little Volkswagen, then make the hour-long drive from Golden, a small town at the base of the foothills where I grew up, to the rugged Continental Divide. This mountain range is home to many of the towering fourteeners. It was there that my family spent a great deal of time when I was growing up. In fact, climbing these mountains is my most vivid childhood memory. By the time I was age 12, we had ascended most all of them. Each was a lot of work, up to a 12-mile trek, which could take a full 8 hours.
Looking back today, I realize my Dad knew exactly what he was doing. He was helping me learn, by direct experience, essential skills for a successful and fulfilling life. For example, I learned that before taking on any challenging endeavor, it’s vitally important to know both your base (point A) and summit (point B). Once you’ve clearly defined those points, then and only then is it possible to choose the right path for getting there.
I also learned to never climb alone. It’s not safe and the risk of failing to make it to your destination is too high. It is also essential to properly plan and prepare for the climb before you begin. And, once you get started, you have to take it one step at a time and stay focused on the moment you’re in.
Another lesson I learned is that there is a high probability that you’ll experience adversity, even setbacks, during the climb. For example, the weather changes fast in that part of the country. It can be clear and sunny skies when you begin, but by the time you reach halfway, the sun can disappear behind rolling dark clouds with high-voltage lightning and booming thunder which echoes through the mountains. And then, of course, pouring rain, even snow in early June or late August is not uncommon. It does little good to hold on to the fear that this might invoke. So I learned to feel the fear fast, let it run, and let it go. I also learned to stay close to my climbing groups, especially in times of adversity. Any time I’d slip and fall, I’d simply reach out my hand and someone in the group would be there to help lift me back up.
Beyond that, what can I say? It just takes a lot of good old-fashioned hard work to get to the top. There were times when I didn’t think I would ever get to the summit; it just seemed too far to go, and my body was doing a remarkably good job of convincing my mind that I had reached my limit. But halfway up the mountain is never a good time to quit. It was then I learned to dig deeper and tap into my heart and soul to find the energy to continue on. Every time I did, I discovered more of my true inner strength.
Standing there on top of the highest mountains in the Rockies, knowing the amount of work, energy and determination it took to get there, made it all worthwhile. From the summit, the view is always incredible and inspiring.
Through these experiences, I began to learn that setting and achieving challenging goals is a remarkably powerful way to discover your strengths, work on your weaknesses, and build self-esteem.
Today, I’m still climbing mountains. My aspiration of helping to transform the nation from worst to first in terms of health and well-being within my lifetime, and perhaps even within 10 years, is Mount Everest to me. In a way, it’s a ridiculously challenging goal, and one many people say is impossible. But in my mind and to my understanding and belief, it is possible. I feel it and know it. And yet I realize the only way to get there is one step at a time. As I see it, each and every individual health transformation is a step in the right direction and a necessary one to get where we want and need to go.