Monday, 30 January 2012 08:00

Things I Learned From Climbing a Mountain

January 30, 2012


A few months ago I climbed a mountain. Yes. You read that right. I left the comfort of my LA home and embarked on an adventure that involved flying to Portland, driving 2 hours through the Washington countryside and climbing a 12,000 foot mountain with a bunch of people I had never met. Call me crazy.

Like most of the difficult things I’ve tackled in my life, I had completely underestimated this climb. I was not fully prepared for the sheer amount of physical strength I would be required to display. I was also unprepared for how psychologically and emotionally transformational the whole trip would be. I learned a lot about myself while I was up there on Mt. Adams. I think my revelations might strike a chord with you too. Here’s what I now know is true:

You’re underestimating yourself.


You are completely undervaluing your strength and power. Stop it. Own up to how unbelievably incredible you are. We all see it and can’t believe that you can’t. That tough stuff you’re dealing with now? You can get through it because you’re strong. Think you’re not good enough to get the job or land the promotion or launch that business? You are but you’re shading your brilliance with your self-doubt. Trust me, you are so much more than you are giving yourself credit for.

You are undeniably brave

I’ll be honest, if someone had asked me in the days leading up to my trip if I thought I was a brave person I would have said no. After going through my mountain climbing adventure, I can’t believe that I ever would have thought that but it’s true. You are brave too. You’re out there traveling around the globe or working hard to support your family. You’re being yourself unabashedly or you’re doing the work to uncover what lies deep inside. You’re chasing your dream, you’re speaking up for what’s right, you’re baring your soul, you’re talking to strangers.

You are Fucking Brave.

I need you to believe it.

No one is judging you.

Honestly everyone is so caught up with their own stuff that they hardly have time to notice all of your “flaws.” That assumption that you have about ‘everybody thinking how lame you would be if you do x’ is a false one. People care deeply about you – the person you are at your core. They care much less about the hard, polished shell you’re presenting to the world. They don’t care about your missteps or your weaknesses or your flaws. They’re not interested in judging you. Plus as we already established in the 1st point, they probably think you’re so much more awesome than you think you are.

You have a different definition of success and failure than anyone else. And that’s perfectly okay.

I wasn’t able to summit the mountain. I got to about 8,000 feet before I had to listen to my body and call it quits. As I descended back down to the camp with the smaller team, I started to beat up on myself. I felt like a failure. Luckily that didn’t last too long before I realized what I had just done. Once I reflected on the whole experience, I immediately realized how successful the whole adventure had been. My definition of success for my trip was not solely tied up in whether or not I summited the mountain. I had signed up for the trip because I wanted an adventure, I wanted to try something new, I wanted to learn about the principles of hardiness. The trip was a success on all those counts plus some. Stop measuring your life by someone else’s definition of success and failure. Define what it means to fail or succeed for yourself and then live up to it. It will save you gobs of self-abuse in the future.

People are awesome, believe in their goodness.


This trip restored my faith in the goodness of people. Generally, people rock. They want to help, they want you to succeed, they are waiting with open arms ready to assist you. And they want to believe in the goodness of you. Believe in people, they generally don’t disappoint.
The biggest takeaway from the whole journey is the importance of stepping outside of your comfort zone. Do things that make you uncomfortable, you’ll learn so much about yourself in the process.

Published in Lifestyle
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