Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. The common phrase ‘hard things are hard’ sums up the experience and while on the face of the mountain I questioned the wisdom of paying for this type of excursion. Instead, I believed, I should be paid handsomely for the excruciating effort.
I almost met my maker in my attempt to gain the summit, but it was worth it because the Rotary Club of Nairobi East raised approximately $35,000 for polio through that event. Not only did they raise the highest amount in the district, but they also cemented their credentials as the ‘coolest club in town’ (the temperature at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro is between -7 to -29 degrees Celsius).
I have incorporated the insights I obtained from the climb into my rallying call ‘Elevate Your Game’. To gain the summit of your capability in your personal life, your career and in Rotary you need to reach deep within and seek that inner strength and determination.
The first thing to do is to offload your baggage and lighten your load. If you wish to ascend to greatness you can’t take negative thoughts, relationships and habits with you because they only get heavier as you take on more responsibility. On the mountain 500 grams of peanuts feels like 5 kilograms and your light rucksack feels like a refrigerator strapped upon you back.
Negative thoughts have the same effect as you advance in life so be sure to drop them and exchange them for positive and empowering ideas. Also, the act of maintaining a positive disposition is the perfect way of building your intellectual and leadership muscle.
Secondly, your success is dependent on the nature of the relationships you have with the people that you walk with. The mutual mental and physical support that you offer one another is possibly the single most important factor in your ability to stick to a difficult path and see it through. At one point you will be receiving help from a friend, and in the next you will be offering assistance to another.
The successive acts of giving pep talks, extending a helping hand, sharing resources among others culminates in a deep and solid confidence that takes you all the way up to the top. Interestingly, people who live the longest and most fulfilling lives are people who have robust networks within their communities.
The third important lesson is critical to building your character as an individual. In every mountain you climb and every adventure you embark on, you will reach a point where you are competing with none other than yourself. It is when the task demands more than you had prepared for and you have to seek strength from every part of your being. At this point even the strongest begin to have doubts about their abilities.
You’ll face your greatest fears as you stare defeat in the face and you contemplate the two options ahead of you, both of which offer relief but have two absolutely opposite outcomes. The first option is to give up and turn around, which will give you relief but at the cost of your self-esteem.
The second is to force your heart, nerve and sinew to serve you long after they are gone, and keep slugging on, one step at a time, with every iota of energy focused on the task at hand. It shakes your being to the core, but the outcome has a payoff of exhilaration, injecting fortitude into your veins and gaining the heart of a champion.
As you take your next step in leadership consider these insights, appreciate the terrain before you and contemplate the changes that will occur within you as you walk on that path. As a district we have many challenges to overcome, most especially to fulfil our true potential as Rotarians serving a diverse community.
Let us build on the great achievements of the district led by the Past District Governors and their teams and reward them by realizing our purpose and establishing their legacy. Offload the baggage, invest in relationships and strengthen your will to win so that we can ascend to the summit of performance and achievement.
The time to elevate your game is now!