The Most Important (and Invisible) Skill for Reaching a Summit


Last week, as I was flying out of Geneva airport, I saw the majestic Mount Blanc through my little window (yes it’s the picture above this post that I snapped with my iPhone).

I watched in awe for at least 10 minutes and then I realized something profound.
When mountaineers try to climb a mountain, like the Mont Blanc or Mount Everest, there is 1 thing that determines wether they live or die.

Can you guess what that 1 thing is?

  • It’s not their plan of approach.
  • It’s not their preparation.
  • It’s not how fit they are.
  • It’s not how much they “Want it”
  • It’s not their will power.
  • It’s not their “why” (which is never the case, but that’s a discussion for another time)
  • It’s not their experience.

Even though all these things are important, there’s 1 more thing that’s the most important thing.

It’s how present they are with the weather conditions.

No matter how well prepared or experienced they are, if they are not able not be very present with the current weather they are very likely to run into problems.

Mountaineers (like business leaders) have to be agile enough the drop their well thought out plan and do something else, no matter how much they believe or worked on the plan.

Why? Because certain weather has certain implications that can never be thought of before.

  • Like from which side to approach the summit.
  • Like how fast to go.
  • Like wether they should go on or withdraw.
  • Like what to wear.
  • Like what to pack with them.

Excellent mountaineers are extremely present with the current weather conditions and are in a constant dance with it. Adapting, making changes, making new plans on the fly, intuiting, dropping old believes, it’s all very important.

  • They don’t fight the weather (it will get you killed)
  • They don’t try to change to weather (has no effect)
  • They don’t argue with the weather (makes no difference)
  • They certainly don’t wish the weather was any different (doesn’t get you any closer)
  • They don’t blame the weather (see how much the weather cares)

Doing any of these things takes them out of their awareness which could result in death.

When we try to climb our personal mountains in business the same rules apply. When we lose connection to what’s happening right here, right now, and we keep going on with our well thought outplans, we always run into problems.

In business, as with mountaineering, When we don’t slow down, step back, become present and see what’s needed, we run into problems and we miss important signals.

This results in missed opportunity, lack of team work, disconnect from clients, lack of vision, lack of creativity, isolation, good people leaving and mostly very costly mistakes.