Greg Mortensen in his book, Three Cups of Tea, describes his first climbing experience. When he was eleven years old his father took him on his his first high mountain climb. “I gagged and puked my way up Kilimanjaro”, he said, and “I hated the climb. But standing on the summit at dawn, seeing the sweep of the African savannah below me, hooked me forever on climbing.” What a great analolgy this is of where we all have been at one point or another in our lives. We make our plans, we set our sites on our loftly goals and dreams, and our enthusiasm runs high. Then we begin the climb to the summit of those plans and all of a sudden we “hate” what we are doing. None of the effort seems worth it. Somehow we manage to keep going and the the summit of it all appears and then we are standing on the top. The difficulty of the climb, the view from the top, and seeing the valleys below, gives us all the motivation we need to “get hooked on climbing.”
Climb High, Sleep Low
CLIMB HIGH, SLEEP LOW
Have you ever felt like life was going along pretty well for you and that you were getting close to the top of some of “your high places” and you ran out of steam just before you reached the summit? I wonder what your response to this has been because many times mine has been to trudge on and experience no gain. This is the time to understand and act on climbing high and sleeping low. This concept comes from high mountain climbers who reach the highest part of a mountain and understand that if they are really to summit they must go back down into lower altitudes and sleep or rest before they go on. How great it would be if we could do that in our lives…to recognize those moments when going on is defeating us but going back will be the key to success. Why is it so hard for us to realize that to constantly push, push, push not only results in no gain, but also leaves us behind. To reach those really high places we need to be careful to balance rest, exercise, and sleep and to know WHERE to do each of these. Ed Viesturs in K2: Life and Death on the World’s Most Dangerous Mountain, reminds us that, “No summit is worth dying for; you can always come back.” If you learn to climb high and sleep low, you not only can come back, but you most likely will summit.
Setting goals and defining ultimate destinations in our lives seems to be an activity that we tend to tackle with the beginning of every new year. I have always thought it a bit ritualistic to think of the change of the calendar as the “time” to do this. It seems to me that the “goal” or the “summit” really should not be the main focus; but rather PREPARING for those is what should monopolize our thoughts. Preparing for something is far more than an intellectual exercise. It should be an activity that is as loaded with passion as is the thought of the accomplishment. Passionate preparation to me means that I think daily and momentarily about the “journey” itself. It has to be something I DESIRE to do all the time and it has to be a priority in my life. Without this kind of passion in the preparation to reach our summits, they become only dreams. In 2012, Prepare with passion!
One of the things that all humans share is the necessity of waiting. We are all required to wait for something, someone, or sometime throughout most of our lives. One would think, with all the practice that we get, that we would get better at it. I have found it to be one of the most difficult things to do with any kind of patience or peace. We become anxious and frustrated and sometimes even angry that things or times just don’t happen quickly enough. But just as with any other “high place”, it takes persistence and commitment to wait patiently when it gets hard. High mountain climbers teach us valuable lessons about the importance of waiting. They remind us that “going too high too fast” is very dangerous and that knowing when to wait and when to go can be a life saving skill. An Everest climber has stated it very well, “a stillness descends and the mountain beckons those who have waited.” Whatever you may be waiting for, look for the stillness that can be a part of the wait and the “high place” of waiting patiently gets closer and closer. If we believe that Life is Better at the Top, the wait becomes worth it.
“Obstacles are what we see, when we take our eyes off the goal.” In our world today, there are so many distractions moment by moment that keep us from being focused. These distractions turn into obstacles and before we know it, the obstacles are all that we see. I believe that staying focused is a “skill”that needs to be practiced before we become very good at it. Practicing staying focused demands that we recognize when those practice sessions come into our lives. It is one of the more difficult professional and personal skills to acquire.
One of the best training grounds for practicing this skill is in the car. We have all been in this situation many times and know how easy it is to lose focus on the highway and on other drivers. We always think we can “multitask” in the car. If we recognize this as a drill that helps us to acquire the skill of staying focused, it will surprise us how much transfer this can be to other areas of our lives. Try being aware of the situations where you can practice this skill. As you get better in the drills, you will see how much more efficient you will be in the “game” personally and professionally.
Your Next High Place
“People are never satisfied. If they have a little, they want more. If they have a lot, they want still more. Once they have more, they wish they could be happy with little, but are incapable of making the slightest effort in that direction”. Paulo Coelho, The Winner Stands Alone
Wanting more material things always looms as our next “high place” and we climb until exhaustion sets in, we decide that more will always mean more and we realize that little is actually what brings fulfillment. I have always felt that there is nothing wrong with having material “things”, but what is deceiving is that “things” can make us lose our ability to be happy with less. Perhaps rather than our desire for more being our next high place, our next personal summit is practicing how to be happy with less. The next time you want more; ask yourself if you have the capability of being happy with less. It is a self-assessment worth making.
Motivational Speaker and Former Women’s NCAA Basketball Coach Launches New Site
I have released a website refresh which will serve as a resource for organizations looking to further develop, empower and organize their teams’ efforts in working more effectively and efficiently.
My experience spans over 35 years of collegiate coaching, administration, and public speaking. I have become a sought after motivational and encouragement speaker and has inspired a variety of groups with her upbeat positive seminars.
I hold bachelor degrees from Cedarville University and Central State University and a Master’s and Ph.D. degree from The Ohio State University. I am a member of four Halls of Fame, the most recent being The Ohio State Basketball Hall of Fame and Museum. My teams have won a national championship and have appeared in the NCAA Tournament every place I have coached including Cedarville University, University of Dayton, Indiana University, and Cal State University, Fullerton. I was also voted National Coach of the Year as well as regional and conference Coach of the Year during her coaching tenure. I have authored two books and contributed numerous articles to magazines and books. My latest piece: “Persevering Amy” appears in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inside Basketball, published in February, 2009.