What’s your Mountain?

How is being an architect like scaling Mount Everest?  I always read accounts of climbers with a sort of sick fascination, part of me wondering what would ever possess anyone to take on this task.  You can’t even see very far from that high up, and your body is so ravaged by the lack of oxygen and extreme cold that you can’t hang out up there and enjoy it.  As someone who is not athletic and is proud of myself that I attend yoga class three times a week, I don’t have a refined appreciation for the physical.  Especially an extreme sport like mountain climbing. I didn’t see the appeal of putting your life on hold for nearly a year to train, then scale this mountain.  Why, why, I thought would anyone risk their life like this?  Why would they make themselves so uncomfortable, put their bodies through such a grueling experience?  I recently read Mark Inglis’s story of how he scaled Mt. Everest as a double amputee. Mark’s account helped me to see that it was about more than just the ego. 

It’s easy to take the concept of scaling Everest as a totally literal pursuit.  The man vs. nature plot at its finest.  But that would be getting it wrong.  You don’t climb the mountain to conquer the mountain.  You climb to conquer yourself. It’s about setting a challenge and devoting yourself single-mindedly to meeting that challenge with every resource of your physical, mental and spiritual being.  If you are going to climb Everest, you cannot let anything stand in your way, especially not yourself.  You clear out your life to train and then make the climb.  And then you let go, you work with, not against the mountain.  You respect its seasons, weather patterns and above all the advice of your guides.  Depending on the year, you may not make it up and the fact that by waiting, you live to make the attempt another time has to be enough.

So back to life as an architect.  What’s your Everest?  What big goal do you have that you would devote yourself to achieve?  What matters so much to who you are that you will make the time and the space to realize it?  If you don’t know, or came up with some wimpy goal like “get a promotion,” you are not alone.  Maybe just thinking along these lines made you feel slightly depressed because your career is so NOT going the way you hoped it would.  You may even be rolling your eyes right now and thinking that having a goal as big as yourself is as ridiculous as it is unattainable.

I’m here to tell you that it’s not.  You can have a career that is life-affirming because it reinforces your sense of purpose in this world.  But first, you have to be deeply in touch with what that purpose is.  You have to have a personal mission statement and a plan that includes steps you can do today that align you with that purpose.  You have to clear away all the fears and all of the rationalizations that are holding you back.  Like the mountain climber, you have to eliminate all the waster activities in your professional life that are not directly moving you towards your goals. 
As a reader of this blog, you aren’t content to have just an average career.  You want to make a difference.  You want to operate as an inspiration to the world.  And I want to help you get there.  In addition to my blog posts, I offer career coaching services that allow you to work with me one on one on your individual career quest.  I’m also so excited to announce that I will very shortly be publishing my first book, Career Crisis.  This book contains many of the strategies I use with my coaching clients, but it let’s you use my techniques and act as your own coach.  It’s not very long on purpose because it’s not meant to dictate, but to guide you.  You have to do the work, but if you do, I promise you’ll be amazed at the transformation you see in your career and in your life.

Find your career mountain and know that you can get to the top.  Get ready to challenge yourself to your greatest potential, to concentrate your efforts to a single purpose, to push through hardships, and finally, to stand up on that summit and say, “Yes, yes, I did it!”