Leadership Strategy Insights From Courageously Taking On Mount Kilimanjaro
I’m working on this Leadership Development Series, when our daughter, Danae, pops home for a visit. She’s working in Tanzania on a medical mission with STEMM Medical Ministry.
Her life is a non-stop African adventure – from managing medical trips to overseeing the wellbeing of 51 orphans to feeding zebras!
There’s one story we’re most excited to hear… climbing Kilimanjaro!
As a mom, I’m a bit concerned when Danae announces that she’s planning on climbing the highest mountain in Africa. In fact, I’m more than a little concerned. I’m fearful. Why? Yes, Danae loves hiking. Or, as she describes it, “a slow ramble over rolling hills, rocky faces, and through streams.” But, she’s not an experienced mountaineer. In my opinion, climbing 19, 340 feet to reach Uhuru Peak isn’t even close to a slow-ramble type of hike!
Well, she proved me wrong! Here’s her story:
“On a clear day, Mount Kilimanjaro is visible from my front door. The sight of Africa’s tallest mountain is not something I’ll ever get used to. I hear stories from some of my co-workers about their attempts to climb Kilimanjaro, and I decide that this isn’t for me – it sounds much too hard! But, as time goes by, I learn more about the draw this mountain has on both tourists and locals. So, when a friend from America says she’ll come to visit me, on condition that we climb Kilimanjaro, I decide to make the trek happen!”
Danae springs into action, invite a few friends and researches the routes. Her sources reveal that Mount Kilimanjaro is more of a hiking peak than a climbing peak. Technical skills or special equipment, such as rope, a harness, crampons, or an ice axe, aren’t required.
“Well, maybe this won’t be impossible after all!
But…then I read that approximately 50% of climbers fail. This shocks me! If this is an “easy hike,” why do so many people fail? My internet sources reveal that this happens mostly due to altitude sickness. Some people choose the shortest route, and then don’t allow adequate time for their bodies to acclimatize. Others don’t have the right mindset. Still, others don’t use a reputable guide.”
As Danae continues her story, my mind draws parallels between her experience and your journey as a leader.
As an experienced leader, you’ve successfully climbed many leadership mountains before. Some were higher than others. Some were extremely frustrating. Maybe you needed special skills or additional resources. No matter the obstacles, you achieved success.
And, today seems different. Why is that?
Era of Exponential Progress and Challenges to Your Leadership Influence
Financial and economic experts claim that we live in the Era of Exponential Progress. What do they mean by “Exponential Progress?”
Is this a good thing, filled with countless opportunities?
Or, will these times become increasingly unpredictable and fear-filled?
Or is it both?
One financial expert shared this example regarding digital cameras:
That’s change at breakneck speed!
Leadership Now published my article:
“How to Be an Engaging leader in a World of Robotics, AI, and Digitization.” I open with this paragraph:
“Many of today’s leaders are saying: I know leadership is about people, not tasks; effectiveness, not efficiency. However, the rapid increase of robotics, AI, and digitization is a disruption. It’s leading us to increased depersonalization and disengagement with our employees. How do I keep the digital demands of today from overwhelming my business? I want to keep my best people engaged, remain competitive, and stay on the growth path!”
At one time, technology and digitization seemed to pose no threat. Humans performed complex analytical tasks that a computer couldn’t do. But, times are rapidly evolving. Computer software with AI algorithms are outperforming humans in staggering ways. Yes, there’s tremendous opportunity for AI to benefit human endeavors. And, there are growing concerns about the impact of AI on human flourishing. For many, the exponential growth in the field of AI and other technologies creates fear.
To make matters worse, we’re also dealing with an economic recession. We see soaring fuel and food prices. Plus, there’s the Cancel Culture unleashing an unrelenting attack on our values and virtues. We worry about the future of our children and grandchildren. We wonder about “The Coup We Never Knew.”
Watch this video on Leadership Strategy Lessons From Mount Kilimanjaro
We’re experiencing unstoppable forces technologically, economically, demographically, culturally, and morally – The Era of Exponential Progress!
Fear looks different in every leader. For some, it’s struggling to focus, or sleepless nights. For others, it may be anxiety or depression. Some, like me, work like crazy to try and stay ahead. I read books like, “How to Compete in the World of AI.”
Regardless of how it shows up in your life, fear is destructive to us on multiple levels. I discuss it here: “How do You Confront Fear to Strengthen Your Leadership Development?”
The more I see the destruction and chaos created by modern-day leadership practices, the more I realize that virtuous leadership strategies are needed. Today’s prevalent thought patterns lead you to believe that it’s better, safer, and easier for you, your family, your company, and your organization, to keep silent in the face of moral and cultural decay. To go with the flow.
I disagree. When you think things are moving in the wrong direction morally, culturally, and technologically, you are called to be counter-cultural. You’re designed to be a courageous leader, one who stands up for what you know is right. You’re called to throw off complacency, not letting it crush what is morally and ethically right. Your leadership strength and influence come from your ability to live courageously.
During these tumultuous times, leaders need and want fresh leadership insights. They seek W.I.N.D. (Wisdom, Insight, Knowledge, and Discernment).
Your leadership matters, NOW, more than ever…especially during this Era of Exponential Progress.
What does your leadership performance journey look like? What is your Kilimanjaro leadership challenge?
What Sabotages your Kilimanjaro Leadership Journey?
Did you know that 50% of climbers don’t make it to the summit? 50%! That astounds me.
As I continue listening to Danae, I realize there are 3 leadership strategy lessons we can learn from these climbers’ failures.
1. Fuel your Leadership Oxygen with a Courageous Character Core
Many climbers choose the shortest route. It looks like the “right” choice – the easy route. However, their bodies don’t get time to acclimatize and they fail due to a lack of oxygen. Today’s challenges also have the potential to steal your Leadership Oxygen. If your character core isn’t strong you stall out trying to catch your breath.
2. Fight a Negative Mindset with Courageous Confidence and Gratitude
A negative mindset is a confidence crusher for any leader. An unhealthy Criticize, Condemn and Complain Culture sabotages your ability to achieve goals and dreams. It saps vital energy on all levels: spiritual/motivational, relational, physical, intellectual and financial. A healthy Leadership Mindset is needed to confront this corrosive cancer.
3. Foster Courageous Collaboration with Others
Many climbers don’t have the support they need. A trusted, experienced, and skilled guide is a must-have in the “mountaineering kit” for all adventurers. This is true whether you are climbing a mountain like Kilimanjaro, or navigating the treacherous terrain of your leadership mountain.
What might you need to successfully climb your toughest leadership mountains?
Expand Leadership Influence by Building Courageous Character, Confidence, and Collaboration
The foundational structure in my how-to leadership resource, Millennials Matter: Proven Strategies for Building Your Next-Gen Leader is:
I’m using the same structure for this leadership series. We’re diving deep into how you might develop Sisu Courage for this Era of Exponential Growth, Digital Disruption, and Cancel Culture:
- Courageous Character & Leadership Oxygen– Strengthen your character core to get more Leadership Oxygen. A solid core builds your leadership capacity. Plus, it fuels the courage needed to stand up to the attacks you may face on a personal, moral, and collective level.
- Courageous Confidence & Leadership Mindset – Counteract the Criticize, Condemn, and Complain Culture as you expand your leadership influence. Discover how a healthy Leadership Mindset of gratitude spurs both courage and confidence.
- Courageous Collaboration and Leadership Toolkit – Engaged with a trusted, experienced, and skilled guide coach. They are an important asset in every Leadership Toolkit, especially during challenging times.
These articles contain practical insights, resources, and action steps to develop Sisu Courage. You’re not familiar with the word SISU? Based on my upbringing, I have a special connection to this concept. Read about the origins of SISU in Millennials Matter, Chapter 18, How the Sisu Spirit Improves Your Leadership Strategy.
It is a critical leadership strategy mindset for these times.
Turn Your Leadership Challenges into a Leadership Performance Adventure
If Danae only focused on the Mount Kilimanjaro failures, what might have happened? She may have given up before she even started!
I invite you to join me on this leadership performance adventure. You’ll learn how she used courageous Character, Confidence, and Collaboration to summit Mount Kilimanjaro! And, how she:
- converts fear into forward motion;
- creates a hopeful vision for the future; and,
- turns adversity into a leadership performance adventure.
As a leader, it’s important to recognize that you have been strategically called to this time and place. It is not an accident that you have been born to be alive and to lead during this time in history. In the Era of Exponential Progress, Digital Disruption, financial turmoil, and Cancel Culture, your colleagues, employees, family, and friends need you. They are inspired by your leadership skills, experience, wisdom, and knowledge.
Personally, I’m challenged by this quote from an anonymous source – “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil.” And, “Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
Your leadership matters, NOW, more than ever.
Yes, there are many things you can’t control. Fortunately, you can choose how you react to adversity. Will you take the conventional route, or will you be counter-cultural? Let’s start working on developing a special brand of courage – Sisu Courage!
One day, you’ll be telling your family your personal, non-stop, leadership adventure stories – how you conquered fear and lead with courage during this “Era of Exponential”?
This article was featured in my February Newsletter. Here’s a link to the newsletter – there are more articles and videos you may find useful.
Danita Bye February 2023 Newsletter
Read the other articles in the Sisu Courage Series:
How to Use the Power of Sisu to Overcome Giant Leadership Development Challenges
Leadership Strategy Lesson: With Sisu Courage, you overcome today’s highest mountains of leadership challenges.
Leadership Strategy Question: What might you do to turn your leadership challenges into a leadership adventure?
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