I have just finished reading a book about ‘achieving success’. It has some good ideas and hints about rising through the clouds to ascend to the giddy heights of the ‘great and good’ – however it keeps referring to the journey as ‘climbing your mountain’ and that doesn’t do it for me.

I am not good with heights. So climbing a mountain is never going to be a good analogy for me. And when you take it just a little bit further some worrying scenarios come to light.

For instance – what happens when you reach the top of your mountain? Well, unless you want to spend the rest of your life sitting on a very uncomfortable pinnacle, you are going to have to start the journey down. Now, I don’t call that success.

As well, if you look at the geographical disposition of most cultures and civilizations – both ancient and modern- we find that the most successful usually dwelt in the valleys. What does that say about mountain climbing?

The son was a mountain climber, one of those that looked upon the heights as something to conquer; so I asked him what drove him to put his mother through such anxiety attacks. He grinned and said (as did Sir Edmund Hillary of Everest fame) “It’s there and it’s a challenge”

“Ah – but would you want to live there” was my response. He looked pityingly at me “Don’t be daft” he said “you don’t live on the top of mountains”

So if even the most avid of mountain climbers agrees that we don’t actually live on top of the mountains we conquer – why do so many business gurus insist on likening successful achievement to it?

Is the only ambition that they recommend to be the ascent – the difficulty in getting to the top – only to look around you and find that everyone else is living comfortably in the valleys below?

Or to reach the pinnacle only to find there is no more achievement to reach out for – and the next step is actually down?

Perhaps the problems lie in their meaning of success. What is success really? The dictionary defines as “accomplishment of end aimed for” – so if your only aim is to climb a mountain then getting there is success.

However, most of us need more out of our lives than just sitting on the top of a mountain. We need personal goals met, we need social interaction, we need a sense of shared achievement – among other such stuff.

So really success (which is measured achievement of goals) depends on what is important to us which in turn defines what goals we set ourselves.

What do you consider would be the pinnacle of success for you?

Would it be:

  • Getting that next promotion
  • Being happily married
  • Becoming a leader
  • Becoming a parent
  • Making lots of money
  • Spending lots of money
  • Being a pop star
  • Leading a private life?

Identifying what is the most important thing in your life is the start of working on your success.

It may not mean you have to climb a mountain; it could be braving the rapids on the rocky river of life. Or your goals may lead you to quiet contemplation in some pleasant backwater.

So Ten Tips for Climbing Mountains may have its place on my bookshelf – but it doesn’t ring true for me. My measure of success is having the time to sit in my garden and smell the roses.

To get that time means that I have to work hard at other things, some of which I love, others which are mundane and mind numbingly boring; but all of which are aimed at achieving my definition of success – idleness among the flowers.

I remember that even if you manage to climb your mountain, the view from the top is limited. It can show you even more mountains ahead to struggle up. or it can show you the pleasant valleys below – but to reach them you will have to climb down again.

We talk about goal setting, discuss what we want to achieve and imagine how that will impact on our life. And as long as we have set goals that mean something to us our success will be assured.

Michele @ Trischel

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