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Life Lessons from the Mountains

Life Lessons from the Mountains

 “It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.”
-Sir Edmund Hillary-

I am the last of four to reach the opening of cave. We just ascended with an easy cable car ride. In barely 15 minutes it took us from the Chamonix village to the top of Aiguille du Midi at 3,842 meters. Where the tourists and sight-seers go right, we go left. It’s time to put on my crampons. As I take my first steps onto the ice floor, the fresh breeze draws my attention to the opening of the cave. The excitement and anxiety of stepping into the unknown is perfectly illustrated by my cautious walking, getting a good footing on my crampons. I reach the end of the cave, giving me a clear view of the white mountain ridge. This is my first ever alpine experience and I am looking down a ridge of 40 centimeters wide, with very long and steep slopes running down on both sides. I have no time to appreciate the beauty. For now let’s get down this ridge…

Ever since I started working at an outdoor store during my studies, I thought about climbing a mountain. Adventure was already a main topic, but climbing mountains, in snow, at high altitude, was still far away. Talking about it with my colleagues and made it into a real thing. In the back of my mind I made a commitment that one day I would venture for a climbing experience.

With colleagues we joked about the idea, but with one colleague and friend I knew it was more than just an idea. Only when we talked later after we both had left the old job some time, it came to a real promise. And when I make a promise, I go all out to make it. We would set out to the Mont Blanc in France.

Although my preparation wasn’t the best, I was confident that I could handle it. But the first day I learned this was something else altogether. The guides had tested us on the first day, and were honest in two observations. First, the weather for our trip was not optimal. Bad weather meant clouds, bad visibility, and hard winds. This meant that even when it was safe enough, speed was the most important aspect to make the longer route to the Mont Blanc, via the Traverse route, into a success. Second, I wasn’t fast enough. I managed so far and took pride in my accomplishments, but according to the guides it wasn’t enough.

“It’s always further than it looks. It’s always taller than it looks. And it’s always harder than it looks.”
-the three rules of mountaineering-

We decided to split up. Each heading out with one guide. My friend went for the long route to Mont Blanc, and I went to climb to Mont Blanc du Tacul. A technical and satisfying climb to a rocky summit at 4248 meters. In this article I want to address the things that went through my mind, when I rhythmically stomped my way up a mountain. One of the most adventurous, daring, and beautiful experiences of my life.

  1. A mountain doesn’t care about you, what you say, or how you feel

When you step onto the mountain, it doesn’t care what your level is. It doesn’t make it easier if you are a beginner. It is just big rock, with snow and ice. The weather can be unforgiving as well. You battle yourself and you battle nature. Nature doesn’t lose, and you can’t win.

  1. It is unforgiving

If you take a wrong step and fall into a crevasse you could be finished. If you just happen to walk under a serac and it crumbles, you are finished. If you fall of the wrong side of a rocky mountain, you could be finished. You don’t conquer a mountain, it lets you.

“Mountains have a way of dealing with overconfidence.”
-Nemann Buhl-

  1. You can never plan or calculate everything

You set out on a voyage and there will definitively be things you didn’t count on. The weather, losing or breaking your gear, a delay that shakes up your schedule, or something even worse. Anyway you will have to get to the summit and get safely down again. There is simply no option for quitting.

  1. You set a goal without the guarantee you will make it

The randomness and chance factor can upset your plan completely. No matter how fixed your goal is, the power of the mountain can force you to change it. Determination and will are really important, but fighting nature is a battle you cannot win.

  1. One step at a time, is the only way to reach the summit

When I left in the middle of the night, I knew I had a long journey ahead. Eventually it would take 7 hours to reach the top and go back down. And then I had to go down to the valley. Although I had no idea on the mountain how long it would take, there is one thing that helped. Think only about the next step. And then the next one, and the next one. There is a trance like state in which you just think about the next step, a flow. It is the only way to reach the top, no skipping or cheating, you have to take every step.

  1. If you can climb a mountain, anything is possible

I understand why people have been attracted to climb mountains, and explore mountain regions. It is unbounded. If you climb a mountain, anything is possible. You have conquered your own mind. If you can climb a mountain, you can take on any journey. All it takes is one step at a time.

In many ways climbing a mountain is a metaphor for life. We all climb some sort of mountain. And the lessons learned at high altitude, made me think about the stuff at home or work in a different way. Whatever you take out of adventure or challenge is trivial. The most important thing is to put yourself in that position.

Challenge yourself!

“The mountains, the forest, and the sea, render men savage; they develop the fierce, but yet do not destroy the human.”
-Victor Hugo-

 

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When Someone Says ‘No You Can’t’

When Someone Says ‘No You Can’t’

I had a conversation with Danny yesterday, and as usual we had lots of things to discuss. In the last blog Danny talked about his path, and how he goes about it. One thing that crossed my mind was the reason why I eventually started to work as an entrepreneur, and why I jumped on the path I knew was right for me. I think it is something that maybe more of you can relate to, and could use as well.

Somewhere around 2011 or so, I finished my studies at the University. I learned a lot, but was definitively still a rookie. I knew that perfectly well. I was always interested in entrepreneurship, and knew I would end up on that path one way or another. I wanted to have my own business, but had no idea in what. I had no particular skills (as far as I thought could be monetized), and zero experience in the business world. So I did what any rookie does, find a job.

After some searching I went to a job market and got a job at an employment agency. I had to place technical guys on projects in technical companies. Not particularly my thing, but I saw it as a great way to learn sales skills. And sales skills are quintessential skills for entrepreneurship. So I got into it. And did the work.

But after 2 months I started to have doubts. It was my first ‘real’ job and I didn’t know if I would see myself do this for any longer. I was under a lot of pressure, but I learned and worked to the best of my abilities. But there was an inner resentment to the work, the place, the whole thing. I still don’t exactly know what it was. But I was unsure about continuing the job.

The company I worked with had set up individual coaching for every employee. So when I had my first meeting with my assigned coach I addressed my feeling. I didn’t feel in place, but I thought I needed this. For I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I was asked what I wanted to be. And where I’d see myself in a couple of years. I told the coach I wanted to be an entrepreneur. She looked at the notes, my assessment, and quite quickly told me I wasn’t ready for that. She told it with such an uninterested voice, and with a flow that read something like ‘you can’t do that’.

I remember this sentence very well. I felt this burning in my torso. How dare she say that to me. You don’t know me. You can’t tell me what I can and cannot do. You definitively can’t tell me what I am capable of. At this moment it hit me. If I wanted to be an entrepreneur, I needed to be one. If you want to be a basketball player, you need to play basketball. If you want to be a pilot, get yourself in a cockpit. If you want to travel the world, stop dreaming, and book a ticket. You have to believe and act like the person you want to become.

I quit my job after 4 months. I traveled a bit, and started my own business. The rest is history. At first I was upset about the fact this ‘professional’ coach told me I wasn’t ready. But later I thanked her. I am grateful for the situation, the path. I am grateful for these explicit, direct words. It was exactly what I needed. It was the slap in the face, the breaking of the chain, or the spark to my fire that lit me up. It released me of the fear for the start. And now I had the extra willpower to show her and all others to show I could.

“If I would have listened to the naysayers, I would still be in the Austrian Alps yodeling.”
– Arnold Schwarzenegger –

So my question to you is; Are you happy where you are now? Are you on the path you want to be on? Is there something you really want to do, but aren’t doing? Do you have people telling you, you can’t do something, or aren’t ready?

Let us know…

 

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A Journey Starts With a First Step

A Journey Starts With a First Step

Two guys working together in a retail store, having a conversation


D: Ohw cool! So you have a company on the side??
M: Yeah man, we write businessplans together with entrepeneurs to give them a head start.
D: Alright, sounds interesting man! I think it’s awesome when people dare to take risks and get rewarded for it on top of that. So how’s it going?
M: Not bad actually. I just got my first employee!
D: Haha, congratulations dude! Going for the big league eh!
M: Haha, we’ll see what happens man. I’m just enjoying the ride. Learning by doing! So what are you up to?
D: Well, I have done a lot of stuff. Started a business, got out of it. Worked several jobs. Started an education to become a teacher. Quit that when I was almost done and had taught for five years. And now starting my studies in psychology.
M: Holy moly, talk about taking risks. That’s one interesting path! I like it. How come this rollercoaster of choices?
D: I never really knew what I wanted, so initially I just chose something and after that I followed whatever felt good. Looking back, that explains the diverse things I have done and still do.
M: I understand perfectly. I quit my first real job after 3 months. It just didn’t feel right, although the pay and benefits were very good. But I believe you must live your heart, to fulfill your life. A little risk has to be taken. What’s your goal with your studies?
D: I love it, without risks, there are no leaps. As for my studies, I don’t have a clear view yet. I’m really focused on getting the degree first. The only thing I know is that I want to make a difference in people’s lives. Help them becoming a better, more educated, wiser, happier person. But that’s still an idea. I am really interested in people and psychology, so I am in the right place.
M: Cool. I am doing an NLP course now. I think that would be something for you as well. It’s all about helping yourself thinking better and changing your mindset for the good. It’s the base for all the coaches and mentors you see today.
D: Yeah, I know what it is. I read a book about it and I know Tony Robbins has some of his roots in it. But I didn’t thought it to be worthwhile. But I do like the ideas about helping people and elevating yourself.
M: I think personal growth is THE way to happiness and success. Exactly what I am working on since a couple of years.
D: Haha, seems we’re quite on a par there! I’m very curious about what the future will bring. Unfortunately, patience absolutely is a virtue…
M: Yeah same here. As long as we keep moving though, being patient won’t get boring!

And now we’re here. Right in the middle of our next move, which entails sharing, discussing and keeping track of our growth process of entrepreneurial, personal and social acts.
In the meanwhile we’ve both changed jobs and we haven’t been talking as much as we did when we had been working together, of course. But as it befits in a bromance we did miss each other like Hachiko missed his master (we’ll leave it in the middle who is the master) and working together at a certain point in time was inevitable.

Now… What is ‘Magnanimity’?

According to Noah Webster of the American Language Magnanimity is defined as such:

MAGNANIMITY, n. [L. magnanimitas; magnus, great, and animus, mind.] Greatness of mind; that elevation or dignity of soul, which encounters danger and trouble with tranquility and firmness, which raises the possessor above revenge, and makes him delight in acts of benevolence, which makes him disdain injustice and meanness, and prompts him to sacrifice personal ease, interest and safety for the accomplishment of useful and noble objects. “

Classic Example of Magnanimous Men
Classic Example of Magnanimous Men

Why Magnanimities?

You might ask. Because it is part of the growth process. Danny was afraid this introductory message wouldn’t be inspiring enough. To that Michel replied: perfectionism can be a mask of fear and procrastination… The answer to that fear is taking a magnanimous stance, take the leap and just do it! (as the famous philosopher Nike once said). It’s about escaping comfort zones.
The growth process, it’s central in both our lives. And what creates even more joy than doing the thing you love to do? Indeed! Enjoying it with others! We’d like to inspire, but we also like to get inspired. We’d like to motivate, and of course we like to get motivated by you. We’d like to educate, and get educated.
So join us on the wonderful path we call progress, and lets grow into magnanimous men and women!

 

So what’s your level on the Magnanimity Scale? What are your experiences with Magnanimities? Show some love and comment, and/or subscribe to our newsletter. We hope to hear from you.