I grew up in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in the shadow of Pikes Peak. A 14 thousand foot mountain known for inspiring Katherine Lee Bates to pen the words to America the Beautiful:
O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain
I summited Pikes Peak (14,115 ft) several times in my youth and then went on with life. Then last summer, I got an itch – an idea sparked, and I became occupied with a new goal, to climb all 58 of the 14ers (14,000+ foot peaks) in Colorado.
It was settled! I flew in from Phoenix (elevation 1,086 ft) met up with my brother and drove up to our starting point/base camp at Kite Lake near Breckenridge Colorado at 12,000 ft that same afternoon.
I was physically fit, outfitted with the best gear and prepared with the right food and plenty of water. As we set up camp, the weather was cold and windy. We were happy to rest and excited to begin our ascent the next day of, not one, but four 14ers including Mt. Democrat, Mt. Cameron, Mt. Lincoln, and Mt. Bross.
That’s when it happened, as I sat there at basecamp. In quick succession, I experienced nausea, dizziness, headache, and darkened blurry vision. Altitude sickness! I was helpless. And as much as I wanted it to go away, I was sure the only remedy was to get off the mountain and descend to lower altitudes.
We spent the next day hiking trails near the city. Then, the next day, with some trepidation, we went back – determined to make another attempt. And this time my body performed. I completed all four summits in 10 hours!
I leveled up that weekend and learned two worthy concepts that find application in the world of business:
- There are things you can’t rush!
- Acclimatizing to higher elevations takes time.
There aren’t shortcuts to developing habits and better business practices like the ones I guide leadership teams through. It takes time! That’s why we spread out foundational Focus Days and Vision Building over 60 to 90 days.
First, in a Focus Day, we work on foundational tools:
- Leadership Abilities to identify and break through “the ceiling” that every businesses, team and individual will hit when growing
- Accountability Chart – identifying the right structure for the business and ensuring individuals are accountable for key roles
- Rocks – identifying and planning the most important work to be accomplished in the next 90 days
- Meeting Pulse – learning a meeting agenda that facilitates optimal action, innovation, problem solving and accountability for teams
- Scorecard – defining key measurables and goals, giving visibility to lead-measures to identify quickly anything that’s off track so we can figure out how to get it back on track
Learning these fundamental tools is like acclimatizing to a higher altitude. I expect teams to practice the tools for 60 to 90 days before we move into Vision execution mode. As the tools are mastered, the leadership team is ready to move on to higher heights and get very clear on the Vision for the company. In two days of Vision Building, we answer 8 fundamental questions. Can everyone in your company answer the following Vision related questions in the same way?
- What are your Core Values?
- What is your Core Focus?
- What is your Ten-Year Target?
- What is your Marketing Strategy?
- What is your 3-Year Picture?
- What is your 1-Year Plan?
- What are your Rocks (the most important things for the company to accomplish in the next 90 days)?
- What are your Issues (things that are keeping you from achieving your goals and your rocks)?
With fundamental Tools to help you run the day-to-day operations of the business and a clear Vision of where you want to go and how to get there, you are prepared to execute and reach higher heights! And you can sustain your growth without getting sent down the mountain for “altitude sickness”.
Trying to cram foundational tools and disciplines into a few days all at once would make things blurry, cause headaches, and keep us from achieving the summit we set as our goal! There are no shortcuts to strengthening your business with Tools, Disciplines, and Vision.
Serious business growth is like a bold and challenging mountain expedition! You can absolutely do it with the right planning and the patience to acclimatize to tools and disciplines that will make your business stronger and capable of whatever you can envision.
Time to Level Up!