On Conquering Your Personal Mount Everest

65 years ago Sir Edmund Hillary became the first person to reach the peak of the world’s tallest mountain. Wherever your big goals take you, know that you will encounter big obstacles. You’ll need to equip yourself with a mountaineering attitude to give yourself the strongest chance to summit your personal Mount Everest.

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In 1924 the initial attempt to summit the world’s tallest mountain ended in the deaths of experienced climbers George Mallory and Andrew Irvine. It would take nearly three decades and multiple fatalities to successfully reach the peak of Mount Everest at 29,029 feet above sea level. With completion of this long sought after feat on May 29 1953, the climbing partners, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, would capture worldwide fame for the remainder of their lives.

Big hairy audacious goals, otherwise known as BHAGs, could take a lifetime to accomplish. Hillary was 34 years old when he conquered Everest and had already been climbing seriously for 15 years. His successful summit was preceded by two failed attempts. But Hillary never regretted it. “I will come again and conquer you because as a mountain you can’t grow; but as a human, I can.”

The key to accomplish your BHAG, whether it be Everest or any obstacle is to plan your path, practice hard, and never quit. Here’s the mindset you’ll need to conquer your own personal Everest.

1. I will give my all to conquering my BHAG, but realize that the journey alone will be worthwhile. I understand that I may never make it to my destination and that’s ok.

Continual improvement of your skill set is its own reward. My favorite part of vacationing with my family when I was a kid was the road trip to get there. The sense of moving towards a worthwhile destination while enjoying the sights on the way made the journey better. It’s the same with going after your BHAG. Enjoy what you’re doing while your doing it. Be aware of what works for you and what doesn’t. Remember that making a “mistake” will a be a worthwhile step on the road to your reaching your goal if you can learn something from the experience.

2. The only possible way I can fail is if I choose to quit. And I’m not a quitter.

Making progress is a choice. You can get up in the morning and decide to make the most of your upcoming day, or not. Most people don’t think about it one way or the other. It’s your intention that determines how far you will go on the journey to your BHAG. Don’t see yourself as a victim to your random situation. Choose to fully engage with it and learn what you can. Don’t sleepwalk through your day. See a challenging circumstance as a gift to grow your skills. Don’t turn away just because you’ve never experienced it before.

3. I will identify my BHAG with clearly defined terms and post it where I will see it each day.

Have you ever made a New Year’s resolution in January only to forget about it by March? That’s what happens if you don’t write your BHAG down and work it every day. To be really effective, you’ll want to develop a step-by-step plan you’ll be taking to reach your goal. And lastly, you’ll want to give yourself an end date to reach your destination. As Antoine de Saint Exupery once said, “A dream without a plan is just a wish.”

Be it Mount Everest or your most challenging BHAG, mountains are meant to be climbed. Going after a goal gives your life purpose and direction. The key is not to freak out if you don’t complete it by the deadline or even if you never get there. Remember to enjoy the journey and know that continually improving your skill set is the critical factor in the pursuit of your Big Hairy Audacious Goals.