Cam Taylor

Be inspired. Be focused. Be tenacious.

7 Essential Qualities for Climbing Life’s Mountains

Inspiration sometimes comes in small packages. That is certainly true when I think of the impact of Alison Levine. At 5’ 4”, she is much larger than her physical size.

As a mountaineer and polar explorer, Alison Levine stands head and shoulders above the crowd. She is tireless in her curiosity and willingness to navigate unthinkable landscapes and challenges. She led the first American Women’s Everest Expedition and even though they failed on their first attempt, she came back eight years later to succeed at climbing to the peak. She has also skied across the Artic Circle to the North Pole.

Alison is both tenacious and resilient and has a lot to teach those of us who aspire to the same kind of life. What sets her apart? What makes her tick? How does she view the world? I’ve gathered a few of my own insights that I like to share with you (these come from a podcast I listened to of an interview she conducted).*

By the way, she accomplished all these incredible feats in spite of having had three heart surgeries and suffering from a neurological disease that causes the arteries that feed her fingers and toes to collapse in cold weather, leaving her at extreme risk for frostbite.

7 Essential Qualities for Climbing Life’s Mountains – learned from Alison Levine

1. You’ll end up frustrated if you let someone else live your dream.

I knew if I didn’t step up to the plate to be the team captain, somebody else was going to do it. Somebody else was going to be living my dream adventure. – AL

Alison had a dream to be part of history and climb the highest mountain in the world. When asked to lead the team of women, she jumped at the chance. She knew deep down that if she didn’t say yes, someone else would end up taking the job and living her dream.

What dream are you letting someone else live?

2. When scared, it’s important to keep moving and not give up.

Fear is only dangerous if it paralyzes you. Complacency will do you in. – AL

I used to feel disappointed in myself when I was scared but then I discovered that fear is a useful tool and you can use fear to your advantage to propel you forward. – AL

It’s not fear that’s the real problem. We’ll always have fear. It’s complacency we must avoid. The key is to allow your fear to move you forward not stop you in the tracks of complacency.

3. Progress isn’t always about moving forward.

Progress doesn’t happen in one particular direction. Sometimes you have to go backwards for a bit in order to get to where you want to be. Don’t look at that backtracking as losing ground in any way. Use it as an opportunity to regroup and regain some strength so you’re better the next time around. – AL

Climbing Mt. Everest involves climbing up, then climbing back down, only to climb back up again. It’s part of the process. In life, we sometimes think that moving forward is only about going up. That’s just not the case.

4. Learn to listen to the voice inside your head that says, “Keep going!”

I learned I had that voice in my head that told me I could keep going even if I felt like I wanted to turn around and quit. – AL

Negative self-talk can paralyze us from taking action. It tells us to quit long before we should. We need to learn to be aware of the voices in our heads and re-frame the limiting beliefs that hold us captive.

5. Winning isn’t about speed or skill but about persistence.

You don’t have to be the best, fastest, most skilled climber to get to the top of the mountain. You just have to be absolutely relentless about putting one foot in front of the other. – AL

Taking the next step is the best advice you can give yourself some days. Whether it’s climbing Mt. Everest or overcoming adversity — be relentless about putting one foot in front of the other!

6. Stop blaming others for your circumstances and take ownership of your own homework.

Don’t rely on somebody else to do the homework, do it yourself.

Climbing is all about taking responsibility for your own climb. Others will help you but personal preparation is at the heart of climbing and overcoming adversity successfully.

7. When going through a storm, remember that the storm is temporary.

Storms are temporary. When you feel like you’re in the middle of a storm, keep your bearings and realize at some point the clouds will go away and it’ll look a lot better.

On Mt. Everest, the storms can be fierce but they don’t last forever. In life, your storms don’t last forever either. A fact worth remembering.

Which of the 7 essential qualities resonate with you the most?  Leave me a comment.

* Go here to listen to the podcast with Alison.

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About Cam Taylor

Life and leadership coach, transition & change specialist, husband, dad, leader, writer, life long learner.

2 Replies

  1. Betty Taylor

    #3 – “Progress isn’t always about moving forward.” I found this very encouraging.

    1. Jinadu Bamidele

      When going through storm remember that the storm is temporal

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