Author:  Todd Skinner

Title: Beyond the Summit

Category: Inspiration, Business

Abstract:  Todd Skinner started climbing in the Wind River Range.  He first climbed Gannett when he was 11.  He was among the first to climb Gannett in the winter.  He relates his climbing experience to life and business.

Rating: 3.5

“Aspiration is one of the qualities that most defines us: who we want to be, where we want to go.  P4

“Success is gaining that which you find valuable” p5  To gain true success, the expeditions you undertake should be chosen according to what you seek to gain, and what will move you further on your lifelong ascent toward your ultimate potential.”p15  Success is often externally defined by traditional currencies: money, fame, prestige, applause.  But these hallmarks of success are frequently by-products of true success, of doing something very well, and to pursue the reward while trying to bypass the solid foundation of enduring success often results in a bad ending. P17

“We are better climbers today because our ultimate mountain is out there pulling us to try harder, learn more, and reach further.  A dream that is great beyond our abilities, a mountain that is harder than we imagine possible, can make us great in aspiration to achieve it.” P14

“We climb the mountain not to stand on top, but to gain from the ascent.  True success is not defined simply by how far you go, but how much farther you have gained will allow you to go.  Everyone has an Everest inside.  It may not be a mountain peak, or a raging river, or a deep ocean, but we all have our ultimate challenges.  It is reaching beyond our grasp, striving to go farther that we ever thought we could, that makes life worthwhile.” P15

Louis Pastuer noted, “In the filed of observation, chance only favors the prepared mind.” P18

“If the past weighs you down, empty it out of your backpack and make a fresh start.  The reason youth can dream so big is because it has so little past to hold it back.” P23

“In freeing yourself from comparison with others, you are no longer tethered to their limits.”  P24

“Of all the factors in an equation that can be adjusted, you have the most potential for change.  Rigidity is the enemy of ascent.” P44

“Remember not to mistake the summit for the goal.  You can take a helicopter to the summit, but your goal is to climb the mountain because of what you have to gain from the ascent.” P50

“Summit-back thinking is much more effective on a mountain than ground-up thinking.” P53

“I realized how important it is to have teammates who believe in the value of the goal…You want the fire and enthusiasm that comes with hunger, a fanatical commitment to the goal, a core belief in its value.” P58-65

“Because you won’t all share the same origins, background, training, or experience, and in fact you might never work together again, the only thing you necessarily have in common is the one goal, and that is the glue that bonds the team together.” P69

“There is no room for dysfunction, or anything but extraordinary and heroic behavior.” P71

“Material elements aren’t the only elements you need to acquire to improve your chances of success at this stage.  You also need to acquire more ability and belief…There is a tendency to focus on the material needs of an expedition while ignoring the mental requirements of the team—their concerns, their doubts, all factors that isolate them from the dream and from each other.  A cast of strangers goes to climb a mountain, and we wonder why, when the chips are down, it becomes every man for himself.” P78

“There is a validation that comes with the sheer terror, because you know then that you are playing in an ultimate arena.  Fear, uncertainty, doubt, and dismay are all signal markers of a Himalayan sized mountain, of a goal, worthy of your desire to climb.” p93

“The desire to retreat is a common response to an overwhelming challenge.  But if you do not counteract this urge, even if you start upward, you will soon come down because where the mind goes the body will follow.” P97

“There is no failure unless you turn away from the challenge when you can still continue climbing.” P101

“An increase in adversity should not automatically trigger a decrease in aspiration.  Adversity should be treated like an adversary that calls upon you to rise, not as a reason to quit climbing…Use adversity as a trigger to increase your resolve.  Play anyway.  Laugh in the face of the storm.  There is glory in the difficulty, and courage in the quest.” p104-105

“Faced with limited resources, your plan doesn’t have to keep you comfortable, but it has to keep you alive until the storm ends so you can climb again.” P135

“A storm might decimate your resources, but it should strengthen your resourcefulness…There is a difference between merely surviving a storm, and coming through a storm optimally prepared to climb when it ends.” P140

“Many expeditions collapse before they even reach the darkest hour, simply because they see it coming.  When adversity falls outside of the planned game, it makes it easy to resent the storm, to consider yourself a victim of bad luck, to say, “If only this didn’t happen I could have.” P143

“Exhaustion or burnout can be treated with disciplined recovery.  Heroic effort should be celebrated, and any contribution rewarded with acknowledgement.  Discomfort can be placed on a larger scale of reference, and adversity can often be whittled down with a sense of humor about your situation.” P145

“A mountain climbed to the summit is a mountain that doesn’t have to be climbed twice.” P149

“The final stretch of the mountain will likely be the most difficult part of the climb.  If you assume this from the beginning, you will preserve as many resources as you can for the summit push, but it always takes more ar the end than you expect.  Expectation can be your enemy here if it doesn’t match reality, or your friend if you have prepared yourself for whatever you meet.  You should expect the end to be hard, so you can start to rise to the occasion before the occasion rises…Morale is your most renewable resource and can be generated by reinforcing the validity of the goal, by encouraging you teammates, and by holding to the summit as your compass point.  It isn’t just your own morale you need to be concerned with at this point, but the whole team’s.  If one member is drifting from the summit, they can pull others with them.  Stress often divides a team, fragmenting common purpose, and causing dissonance in desire.” P150

“Don’t ask if reaching the summit is possible; ask if it is impossible.” P152

“The climber Rene Dumonde once said, ‘You cannot stay on the summit forever.  You have to come down again, so why bother in the first place?  Simply this: what is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above.” P171

“Anyone who has contributed to your ascent goes to the summit with you, and it is important to acknowledge their contribution.” P172

“The summit offers the clearest perspective to see who we were, and who we are now…But before you leave the summit, it is critical to look downward and inward as well, to understand how far you have come.  You need to walk away from the mountain with a strong sense of gain, understanding that you are no longer the person who began this climb” P174

“Another potential crevasse is to insufficiently synchronize a team to the mission.  We often allow a fair amount of dissonance and dysfunction in a team at the beginning of an expedition, thinking that it takes time to tune them all, and that time is lost to inefficiency.  It is better to synchronize the team before the climb begins, to have everyone understand and agree on where you are going and what it is going to take to get there, so you are working in unison from the start.” P176

“You always need something beyond the summit—a Point C, your next mountain—to pull you through the end of the climb.” P179

“Success itself can be a danger to future success, because if you are standing on top, why go any higher?  But ask yourself if this is as high as you can go.  Your arrival should be a launching pad for future endeavors.  If you think, I have arrived, you are focusing on the past, while you should be looking forward to who you can become…But the summit is the best place to envision another mountain, because here you have the truest perspective of how much farther you can go.” P181-83