27 OCTOBER, 2023

Journey to the summit

It was Day 3 of the hike. We're at high camp at 5,100m of altitude, prepping for the challenging journey ahead.

7pm - We go to bed, aiming to grab whatever sleep we can. The air is thin and freezingly cold.

11pm - The alarm rings. Quick 'breakfast', gear on, bags packed. In pitch black darkness, off we go on our push towards the summit.

6am - Sunrise. After 7 brutal hours of ascending through the darkness, there I was, standing on top of Huayna Potosi, a 6,088m peak in Bolivia.

Tears in my eyes, feeling on top of the world, it was one of the best days in my life.

Although the achievement was great, it's the struggles and learnings along the way that I want to share with you.

So here are three mindset and self-management lessons from this journey, applicable to any area of our lives:

1) Don't look up, just focus on your next step
On the climb, looking ahead is a big mistake. Seeing headlights in the distance of people above us just showed me how much we still had to cover - very demotivating.

So I kept my focus on my feet.... Right foot, left foot, left hand (we had ice axes) - rinse and repeat.

I knew that by focusing only on these 3 steps, I would reach the summit. There was nothing else I had control over. Just my breath and my steps.

In our lives, some projects may seem overwhelming and challenging at the start, making it easy to shoot them down or back away from them.

Instead, only focus on the next step and on the things you can control - your thoughts and your actions. Everything else is a distraction.

2) Know when to hit the "Pause" Button, and do it shamelessly

Being super competitive, it was easy for me to want to stay ahead of others. But I knew that it was a marathon, not a race.

Self-management was key here. Towards the final and hardest part of the ascent, I was struggling.

I started making mistakes, wrong breathing, wrong technique, and so on. I knew I had to pause and catch my breath in order to maintain composure.

Near the top, I was taking breaks every 10 mins.

It's easy to compare ourselves to others and strive to get ahead of them, but if we don't listen to our bodies and take breaks when we need to, a burnout is inevitable.

So who cares how many breaks you take, as long as you reach your goal.

3) At the darkest hour, your "WHY" is your fuel

When I was struggling near the top, I kept picturing the faces of my family and my closest friends - they gave me the extra fuel I needed to keep pushing.

I was doing this for myself, and also for them.

When you're in a challenging situation, working long hours under high-pressure, remind yourself why you're doing this and who you're doing this for.

Keep your closest people in mind and let them give you the needed motivation to power through.

In the end, the journey to the summit is more than a climb, it's a mental challenge as much as it is a physical one.

With the right mindset, any goal is within our reach, so let's go for it!
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