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Five Life Lessons From A Mountaineer's Diary To Live A Zero Regrets Life It is only failure if you do not learn anything- otherwise, it is a true gift for the future.

By Saahil Mehta

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Life as you see it changes 360 degrees after you scale your very first mountain.

In the lap of mother nature, as we are soaking up the insatiable beauty and peace that nourishes our soul, we are also learning some critical life and leadership skills, as this benevolent mother is on a mission to enable us to scale not only our summit ahead, but the mountain within each of us that is awaiting transcendence.

In this article, let's explore five key lessons and insights that can help us break free from the unwanted baggage we keep holding onto- after scaling some of the tallest peaks of our world:

Lesson #1: Live a more fulfilled life by aligning actions with goals that are in line with aspirations

We are all climbing metaphorical mountains, and it is key to identify which ones are most important at this stage in your life. These may be for health, wealth, relationships, personal growth, community, etc. Your summit is a celebration of your aspirations. But the first and perhaps the most critical clarity one must have is: "What summits of success really matter to me?"

Next, you want to define the duration of scaling this summit that you believe it will take- which could take weeks, months or even years. And now, you are ready to set your specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound (SMART) goals.

Based on this newfound clarity, you can ask yourself each day as you make thousands of decisions: "Is this in line with where I want to go?" If not, you may want to reconsider your decision or options and take action accordingly. As a bonus, this also saves time, as you no longer do things that are not in line with your summits.

KEY INSIGHT Choose only those summits that matter to you, and not what the society thinks is a significant achievement.

Lesson #2: Increasing productivity through effective goals setting and communication

As mentioned in the aforementioned lesson, it is very important to make SMART goals. Most people have vague goals, such as, "I want to lose weight," or "I want to perform better at work," etc. By pushing yourself to craft SMART goals, you will be able to celebrate its accomplishment when you reach them, as opposed to the current scenario with most where they have no idea.

Moving on to effective communication, at both a personal and a team level, ensure that our aforementioned goals are clearly communicated and chased. On a mountain, we have no choice but to be effective; otherwise, someone's life could be at risk.

Let's break communication into its individual parts– you have the intention and behavior, which is controlled by the communicator, and you have the comprehension, which is controlled by the listener. Only when all three are aligned will you have success.

Now that we live with more diversity, this becomes even more important to avoid misunderstandings. On a mountain, we speak clearly, and use methods such as repeating back, or allowing the listener to demonstrate what they understood to ensure effective understanding.

KEY INSIGHT Secure a buy-in or alignment confirmation of the goal from your team, and ensure each member is in resonance with the collective "why" and "how."

Lesson #3: Looking at multiple perspectives, and having a contingency plan

It is so important to address the "what if" scenarios prior to a climb. This could be to address sudden weather changes, high-altitude related challenges, pairing of people in case someone needs to go back down, etc.

This planning is even before the ascent begins, as we want to avoid making tough decisions when we are at high elevation (usually over 4,000m) when we may be emotional, tired, in disagreement, etc. By going through several scenarios prior to the climb, and being aligned just makes the decision-making process much easier.

KEY INSIGHT Having a team is useless, if you do not factor in the expert opinions of those who perhaps know better than you. Step out of the ego mode, and allow the expert to drive the contingency plan in case of worst case scenarios.

Lesson #4: Understanding what needs to be decluttered that no longer serves any purpose

Carrying a one-kilogram weight for five minutes may not feel like much; however. carrying it for 10 hours feels like a lot. When you are climbing a mountain, you just carry with you only those items that have a purpose for you to reach your destination.

Carrying excess weight -which I call clutter- will only slow you down, and it will require more of your energy to reach the summit. Even worse, if you have too much clutter, you may not make the summit at all.

As you are climbing your metaphorical mountains to live a more fulfilled life, ask yourself if the baggage (both physical and mental) you are carrying is serving any function or purpose. If not, it's time to declutter.

KEY INSIGHT Clutter is essentially shunned confrontations with yourself, with others, and with key decisions of your life. The sooner you identify this clutter holding you back from playing to your potential, the faster you will set new summits for yourself- and scale them!

Lesson #5: Achieving more through serving others

The best way to explain this is through my personal story. While climbing to Kala Patthar (5,545m), a little higher than the base of Mount Everest, during the final ascent Ekta, my spouse, suddenly broke down, saying that she could not continue anymore.

Just to put things in perspective, we had completed 99% of the journey up, and this was the last section. Nine days of climbing, and lower oxygen levels had caught up with her. She came for me, and she told me to continue, as this was my dream climb, to which I responded, "We have made it this far; my dream has already come true. Either we go up together, or we go down together, but I will not leave you."

She was thinking of me when she told me to go up by myself. I was thinking of her when I highlighted whatever we do, it will be together. Had each of us been selfish, we would have been apart. In the end, she managed to tap into her reserve, and we both made it to Kala Patthar where we were able to witness the most beautiful sunset on Mount Everest- all because we thought of the other, and put them first.

KEY INSIGHT Your journey of scaling your summit will be faster, happier, and more meaningful when you are chasing a collective north star- this is the true purpose of being human!

Now, you have five wonderful lessons from a mountain climb that you can apply to your daily lives to scale your summits of success faster. I shall leave you with this last bonus lesson that I learnt in 2022, when I was unable to summit the tallest mountain in Mexico. Some may call it a failure (I certainly felt that way during that moment); however, the greatest gift it gave me was to discover the critical cracks in communication, the significance of a contingency plan, and having a realistic fitness check, all of which have now made me a focused and wise mountaineer overall. So, even if we didn't scale the above summit, today I have zero regrets about it. It is only failure if you do not learn anything- otherwise, it is a true gift for the future. Remember, your failure is a gift of wisdom for your future self!

Related: Finding The Balance: The Cyclical Dilemma Of Demanding Excellence

Saahil Mehta

Entrepreneur and author

Saahil Mehta is an entrepreneur, author, and passionate mountaineer. Over the last 10 years, Saahil scaled four of the tallest mountains in the world, a dream that he harbored since childhood. As a global citizen, Saahil has built successful businesses across 3 continents, has written a book on personal disruption, and coaches ambitious leaders on scaling their summit. 

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