Stories of Gumption is a regular column that profiles individuals who admirably demonstrate Gumption as we define it. These are the stories of real people who exhibit gumption in overcoming personal challenges, and validate the spirit of Gumption during their journey. Let’s take inspiration from those who seize 100% personal responsibility and show us how to live a life that exhibits Gump-like character traits worthy of applause!
Last Tuesday I heard mountain climber Ed Viesturs talk about his story. He has climbed the fourteen highest peaks in the world. These fourteen Himalayan peaks all exceed an elevation of 8000 meters (26,247 feet).
Ed’s quest took him eighteen years to accomplish. He went on thirty expeditions and reached the summit twenty times … including summiting Mt. Everest seven times. It’s a story of patience, persistence, and Gumption. Today Ed continues to climb mountains, although with a different purpose than when he was singularly focused on becoming the first American to reach all fourteen peaks without the use of bottled oxygen. That quest, which he dubbed Endeavor 8000, is chronicled in his book No Shortcuts to the Top. It’s an exciting read.
Ed’s life story is one of Gumption. It’s more than just a story of accomplishment and persistence. It’s about presence of mind, integrity in the goal, the choices one makes, the adversity one faces, creating opportunities, communicating, and ultimately being receptive to conditions out of one’s control.
Here are some highlights I noted from Ed’s presentation:
- Reaching the summit is optional, getting back down is mandatory.
- Hope for the best, plan for the worst.
- The people you climb with make the difference in your experience. Do you like them? Do you trust them? Do you share the same level of acceptable risk with them? Do they enjoy the process or journey in a similar manner as you?
- To get to the top, you must be patient, persistent, and motivated.
- Everyone has a different level of acceptable risk. Be wary of groupthink when evaluating risk. Ed calls himself a risk manager rather than a risk taker.
- Follow your own beliefs and instinct. Does it feel right?
- Listen to the mountain. Follow its rules. Is the mountain allowing you to climb it today, or is it telling you it won?t be climbed at this time?
- Skill and desire are two critical ingredients necessary to fulfill any long-term plan.
- The Karma Bank is the place where you make deposits regularly, and then occasionally get rewarded with a big withdrawal … with interest!
Ed’s message about climbing mountains is analogous to living life. Anything is possible with enough planning, patience, and determination.
Ed continues to live a life with Gumption, just as he climbed the fourteen 8000-meter peaks with gumption.
Next Blog Title: No Shortcuts to Success
Next Blog Date: April 28, 2011