ABOVE: Scott Kolbe descends Mt. Elbert (elevation 14,433 ft.), the tallest peak in the Colorado Rockies and second tallest in the Continental United States. Photo credit: Derek Cisler
Mankind has a history of taking on adventures that seem impossible. Crossing an ocean to discover new lands. Putting a man on the moon. The people who dreamt of these notions were once laughed at.
I can relate to these adventurers because I, too, have ideas that prompt many people to scratch their heads. Over the last 2 and a half years, I have taken a journey toward a goal that most of my friends have a hard time understanding. They don’t have a clear picture of what I have had to endure, and they have trouble wrapping their heads around why I did it or what it actually is.
I have learned to be okay with their lack of understanding, and honestly, I have stopped trying to make what I want something that everyone has to understand. In some ways, the fact that so many question my sanity is encouraging – it puts me in good company.
In my case, my journey led me down the path of becoming a triathlete and mountain climber, but regardless of what big thing you’re trying to accomplish, the journey is usually a long one – filled with ups and downs and requiring many steps to get there. Some of the steps are not things you really want to do, but you can persevere if you remember you have to do it for yourself and not for anyone else.
This kind of perseverance and adventurous spirit is what I’ve seen with successful companies we’ve worked with over the years. They’ve consciously decided to embark on a journey towards the impossible – whether that’s launching a new brand, expanding their markets around the world, garnering international media attention, or transforming their business culture into something their industry has never seen. The reality is that taking on what seems impossible isn’t, if you have the right approach:
- Start with a vision. What do you want accomplish, and are there short term goals that would help lead you closer to accomplishing your big vision?
- Break it up into pieces – however small they may be – and start chipping away at them. That applies in all aspects whether physical or mental. It is rare you can just make an announcement or share a story with the media and it takes root. You can’t decide to run a marathon one day and make it happen the next.
- Create a timeline. When will you tackle each of the pieces? At what point on your timeline will you progress to the next level. When it comes to competing in things like triathlon, you work on each piece of the race. Maybe you start by competing in running and entering a 5K, and slowly build up to a half marathon. Then you learn to start adding the three disciplines together. These incremental steps and timelines are key.
- Put it all in writing. Document your plan, week-by-week and month-by-month. Track the steps along the way and hold yourself to that plan. Don’t beat yourself up for every little mistake or snafu, but be honest with yourself and re-examine your plan if you are completely missing steps along the way.
- Have a great support structure. Without people willing to lift you up when you struggle, you are going to have a tough journey. And you are going to struggle – whether it’s business or running a triathlon. You need people to point out the positive and encourage you through the challenges. When you stumble, go to your support base and power through it.
- Keep your purpose and vision in mind at all times. Remind yourself that it is important to you and reason why you want to accomplish something that seemed impossible. You must remind yourself you are on the way.
With this approach, I know I can achieve a goal that once seemed impossible. The reward has to be internal and it is often knowing the strength of your mind, body and that you have the ability to conquer the impossible. So go ahead and take on a challenge. Climb a mountain, run a marathon or grow your business to a level never thought possible.