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Climbing the Literal Mountain – Why Even in Business it is About the Journey

William D. Brown said, “Failure is an event, never a person.” Soichiro Honda said, “Success is 99% failure.”

What poignant statements. I contemplated these two quotes as my husband and I set off to hike the highest peaks on the eastern seaboard; Mt. Mitchell’s Black Mountain Crest Trail. We had done a portion of the Black Crest Trail before, but for a variety of reasons it defeated me. So off we were headed, me in much better shape, to try and tackle this literal mountain. My goal: to get to the second peak. If you have ever hiked the Black Mountain Crest Trail you know that the weather system on the ridgeline is very erratic and storms blow in quickly. Unfortunately, this was the case about an hour and a half into the trip and we had to turn back. Half way back the storm hit. 50 mile an hour winds swirled around me & I thought God had to be playing a cruel joke. Up to this point I had been proud of myself. I barely made it to Mt. Craig last time and to have hiked over 3.5 miles on this terrain was a feat. As the wind knocked down trees, Andy and I raced to reach shelter. We ran most of the last mile. Right as we were climbing Mitchell I fell, tripping over a huge rock. The fall took the wind out of me and short circuited my adrenaline. As I looked up at the towering staircase of rocks I had to climb, I felt defeated. I told Andy I couldn’t run anymore and to go on, “I’ll catch up,”  but he refused to leave me. (Have I mentioned how much I love my husband?) So one foot in front of the other I finished, picking up the pace the last quarter mile. Soaked to the bone and extraordinarily windblown we made it to a shelter near Mt. Mitchell’s summit.

Waiting for the storm to pass, I reflected on our journey….

And isn’t that the point.

The reason ‘99% of success is failure’ and the reason ‘failure is an event, not a person’ is because it is about what you learn during the journey. I learned that not even hurricane force winds could keep me from moving beyond my goal. We hiked a portion of Mitchell, Craig, Tom and half way to Balsam Cone before we decided to turn back. My original goal had only been to hike two peaks.

This spirit of growth and learning is just as important to organizations. There are many figurative mountains to climb. Social media is a huge mountain that all marketers and communicators are trying to climb in order to determine how to use it effectively and ethically. Just when we think we have it all figured out, the weather changes. Look at the new web rules regarding domain names. Instead of being limited to .com, .tv, .net, .edu… organizations can now choose their own dot domains. (Wall Street Journal Article: Web Address Enters New Era)

So I am challenging myself to a new hike; one where I allow myself and my employees the ability to learn from our journeys. Just like my husband was there to guide me, we will be there to guide each other.

I have no doubt the outcomes will surpass any possible goals we could set.

Who is going to join me?

Additional Inspiring Quotes Regarding Failure & Drive: Failure and Drive

Courtesy of: Peter Popovich, life coach in Charlotte, NC

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3 comments on “Climbing the Literal Mountain – Why Even in Business it is About the Journey

  1. haley
    June 23, 2011

    lovely article!

  2. kwgregory
    June 29, 2011

    I love this post, Kristen. I think your thoughts on “failure” are so poignant and insightful. So often, we miss the beautiful journey and its lessons because we are focused on goals and “success.” And I think your point about how organizations need to heed the need for a revised view on failure is so important.

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