BLOG August 2020

Why mountain climbing and entrepreneurship mean the same to me

This summer I am fortunate to be able to travel through the DACH region while I work. Interspersing my work with some spectacular alpine hiking tours has been the highlight of an otherwise challenging year.

I am a big city girl at heart, yet visiting the mountains gives me much needed respite from the hustle and bustle of daily life. There’s nothing like the smell of mountain cedars or the view from the peak. Hiking is where I’m able to meditate and replenish my mental energy. It offers me a chance to think more creatively about my work. It’s a win-win for me and for my business.

This week I hiked up to the Austrian Kitzsteinhorn (3203m) . The hike was extremely challenging and exhausting. Despite the difficulty, I thoroughly enjoyed the steep climb to the top. Upon reaching the peak, I luxuriated in the expansive view and felt a sense of pride at my accomplishment. Once I’d taken it all in, it was time for the descent. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that going up at a > 40% gradient was a lot easier than going down – at least for me. Conventional wisdom would say the opposite however, when you’re looking down 3000+ meters, there’s nothing easy about it. Turns out going up is actually preferable to going down.

Since I needed to think about anything other than what was below me, as I descended it occurred to me how much my hike reminded me of entrepreneurship: invigorating difficult ascents followed by exhilarating highs, and scary, challenging dips and valleys. 

Preparing for a difficult hike starts with the necessities: water, food, proper clothing and a map. You plan your route and timeframe and plan to be home by sundown. Similarly, in busines you start with an idea and a business plan. You then map out your goals and timeline.

Like hiking, business experiences are full of highs (reaching your goals) and lows (facing that steep decline). You may find unexpected delights along the route as well as frustrating roadblocks. On a hike, you may have a great map of your path only to be detoured by unexpected weather. In business, you may be meeting every objective only to be sidelined by a new competitor entering the marketplace.

The one thing we know as entrepreneurs is that no matter how steep the climb or how many challenges we face along the way, achieving our goals gives us an incredible feeling of accomplishment. You almost forget all those struggles along the way.

There’s nothing like the moment when you reach the mountain peak. You truly feel the immensity of your surroundings. After hours of hiking, wondering if you’d ever reach the top, you suddenly see nature’s breathtaking beauty in front of you – at that moment you know that it was well worth the trek.

There is a saying that “the best view comes after the hardest climb.” No doubt, I believe it to be true. No matter how hard the journey, I’m still hiking up.

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