What Mt. Kilimanjaro Taught Me About Business

Picture this: ten friends slogging their way up Mt. Kilimanjaro – each one carefully copying the foot placements of the person in front of him. Now add in extreme weather, sleep deprivation and the lurking possibility of injury. About a month ago, that was my reality. The air was thin, but the penchant for adventure was dense as ever. As my friends and I struggled to make our way up, I couldn’t help but think of all the similarities between this trek and my equally colossal workload back home. Obviously, climbing the highest mountain in Africa for six days (plus two days down) is incredibly different from my typical work week. But climbing 19,341 feet above sea level certainly makes a person think.

Typically, my greatest concerns at work are minimizing commute time and facing my frustrations with computer technology. In contrast, my greatest concerns on Mt. Kilimanjaro had more to do with altitude sickness, physical stamina and sub-freezing cold. And let’s not forget the greatest of them all – the three-headed hydra of missing, spilling or filling the pee bottle held in a shaking hand over my sleeping bag in the dark. For eight nights. Three times a night. In the cold. Uphill both ways. But none of that really mattered. Why did none of that matter?

One night as I lay in my sleeping bag trying to stay warm, I realized just how close we were to the stars. It was almost as if I could reach out and touch them. That’s when it clicked. Climbing a high mountain – like creating a business – needs passion, foolhardiness, courage, and love of adventurous challenge that is far greater than the fear of failing.

The preparation and training processes are similar too. Both require countless hours of homework, simulation and team-building, especially in skills that don’t come naturally to the founder. Just like running a business, climbing a mountain demands the discipline and perseverance to put one foot in front of the other for what seems like forever, without losing your way toward the distant end goals that first inspired your journey.

So what big lesson did I learn from my adventure on Mt. Kilimanjaro? That I’m not done scaling mountains just yet.

After all, I have a metaphorical Mt. Kilimanjaro here at home. I founded Just Resolve because of what I experienced firsthand in the legal industry – the need for a new kind of dispute resolution that saves time and money, reduces stress and preserves relationships. It’s through this adventure that we’re building an enlightened community of adopters and advocates – co-climbers if you will. So with lots of gratitude and a little grit, I’ll keep putting one foot in front of the other.

See you at the top.

January 2017, Rob Christopher at the Summit




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