Ian Taylor, the youngest Irishman to climb Everest, offers some advice to help you stand on your summit, whatever or wherever it might be.
When it comes to big challenges, nothing captures the imagination as much as Everest. However, the dream of Standing at 29,035 ft above sea level comes with severe risks: for every ten people who reach the top, one dies trying. In fact, there has never been a season on Everest without a fatality. It is a difficult road to travel with many highs and lows. Everest stands in the Death Zone where the mountain crushes ambition and dismantles self belief. When we set our goals high, there is a certain amount of risk involved. If one makes informed
decisions, and works with the right team, that risk can be managed and minimalised.
On the 23rd May 2008, I stood on the summit of Mount Everest, making me the youngest Irishman to achieve this feat.
I set out with a team to climb four mountains on four continents in one year, with the end goals of standing on the top of Mount Everest and raising the funds to build a primary school in Kitandwe, Uganda. When the idea was conceived, three years previous, I had never climbed on a mountain, been to altitude or raised a large amount of money for charity. I never knew until the last day whether or not I could make this goal a reality. What I did know is that our team was working with the right people in all areas of our plans to minimise the risks
and achieve the ultimate goal.
So, if you are taking on a challenge of a lifetime, starting your own business, managing change or striving to develop new ideas into your business, here are a few keys areas to make sure that you stand on your summit.
The first element to contribute to my success was our team. We set clear, precise targets and deadlines and each individual had a different role and responsibilities in achieving the goal we set out. I believe that Vision drives activity and we all had a similar vision and it drove us to focus on our goal and ignore all other distractions. The right team outperforms an individual on any task. Everyday we had to remind ourselves that every action we take will affect our overall performance. Secondly, I was accountable to others on a weekly basis on progression across the board. We were flexible and changed our methods several times throughout the process and we found keeping things simple was key to progression. By discussing development and change with our team and having excellent relationships with our supporters, I felt empowered and satisfied with my contribution. Small successes in preparations and the time we spent on the mountains made the journey a success. In following our vision, the right actions followed and that was key. Thirdly, understanding each part of the operation fully, gave me the skills, confidence and knowledge needed to represent myself and my team through the journey of disappointment and success.
In achieving success I found it took real courage. By completely absorbing myself in Everest, constantly researching and studying all aspects of the mountain, I knew I was capable of achieving my goal. I knew each of the camps, dangerous areas and routes up the mountain.
I had to fully immerse myself in the activity so that when difficult situations occur I would have all the information at hand, the experience to know how I was performing, and the knowledge to keep taking the right steps. For me, those steps above 27,000 feet in the death zone were made in minus 40 Celsius, when I hadn’t slept in two days, and I had seen dead bodies, snow blindness, broken limbs and frostbite all around me. I was sitting at 26,000ft at our top camp and was told someone had died of a heart attack two tents down, and that we would have to step over a fresh body at 27,600 feet, and through all this I had to focus on the end result and not on what could happen to me. Internal focus was needed to remember all the preparation and hard work I put into getting to this high point on the mountain. I had to Block out distractions and focus on every step to drive myself to the highest point on the planet.
Battling against the odds on a mountain, or in business, is a difficult task, but having the right team, supporters, networks and current information can lead to real development. A key lesson I learned from my experiences, was that achieving goals is made possible through seeking the right information to make informed decisions on every challenge that I was faced with. Without the support of a team and encouragement from friends and family, I believe that I would never have made this journey. Encouraging outside interactions helped me make the right connections and decisions needed.
Remember, when aiming high, and trying to make your challenge a success, enjoy the journey and carry with you the success.