Working with customers throughout the world demands early starts and late finishes. Having a young family means that every moment of time that could be spare is soaked up 10 times over. Most attempts at some “away time” are not possible as modern life is 24/7. The nearest I usually come to getting away from it all is on a long haul flight where I refuse any opportunity of any internet connection in order to try to switch off for 10 or 12 hours. But recently I had the chance to switch off from normal life in a completely different way. Rather than 10 hours of uneasy sleep I was climbing in the French Alps above 3000m.
Climbing, ascending, just being in the mountains demands that you live in the moment. That’s what I love about it. Whether physically stressful or mentally exhilarating due to massive exposure the thing that is always required is a focus on the present in order to be safe and alive. No part of the 9 day trip illustrates this more clearly that the two days spent up above Le Tour.
The full story of those two days can be read in my personal blog here. The next paragraph is a very short summary.
The planned two days should have been relatively easy physically and within the capability of the team setting out. My own body struggled far more than expected (more than any previous time at altitude) and and it made it a physically difficult undertaking with soul searching questions to myself about whether I was endangering the party by continuing. Some interesting climbing, superb teamwork and a route change later we were sitting on top of an alpine peak.
The strength of mind and complete focus in the moment required to continue safely in this environment when my body was struggling certainly clears all other thoughts. It is interesting then to see which thoughts of family, friends, achieving things together come back into my mind first. Almost the last thoughts to return are any about possessions (other than necessary equipment). So many things in life and indeed in business are superfluous. Although many people have opinions about the risk involved in mountaineering and many people have opinions about decisions made in the mountain, I find that there is no judgement in the mountain other than what you take there yourself.
Returning to work the following week I have found a new focus. I find that I can focus more fully on a customer question, digging deeper into the root cause without being distracted. I find that some of the small things that seem to waste time are ignored as being superfluous. Attention is on the main goal, the objective, the team and the customer.