Why Climbing Mount Everest Can Teach Why You’re Here

As an entrepreneur I can be a challenge junkie. Recently, I’ve become addicted to cycling through states in a day or two (Wisconsin is set for 2022). Although I’m a frequent day hiker, I’ve never considered climbing Mount Everest because of the altitude and the cold, but I’ve always been fascinated by what people learn when they do.

On The Small Business Radio Show this week, I had just that conversation with Vivian James Rigney, president and CEO of Inside Us LLC, an executive coaching consulting firm. As an executive coach, he’s known for building strong rapport with people and asking tough and sharp questions, with an uncanny ability to help them reveal and become their best version of themselves. His new book is titled “Naked at the Knife-Edge What Everest Taught Me About Leadership and the Power of Vulnerability.”

Vivian, who had previously climbed the other six tallest mountains in the world, realized he wasn’t as strong as he thought; “While climbing Everest for two months, every cell in my body said I shouldn’t be here because of all the trauma that constantly surrounds you.”

He had a lot of time to think as he spent 12 hours a day alone in his tent. Vivan had that “aha moment”; “How will people remember me if I die on this journey? Will they remember me as an achiever, or better yet, how I made them feel? I thought they would mostly see me as an achiever and that disappointed me.” At this point, Vivian said he was very sorry and felt helpless to change this unless he was able to complete the journey.

He also began to think, “Why was I here? Why do I always have to prove how smart, committed and what a good son I am?” His response was a disappointing “I don’t know why I’m here”; but from then on, Vivian promised to keep asking, “Why am I doing this?”

Vivan also learned “followership” while climbing Everest. He says that “people who follow you want to know why they do things. If you can get them to buy in, you can get exponential results. You need to know what drives them and what scares them? Learning these skills will help you build a following. Make sure you see people for who they are, not just what they do. If you’re able to do that, they’ll make you feel authentic and vulnerable.”

Listen to the entire journey on The Small Business Radio Show.

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Image: vivianjamesrigney


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