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This past weekend I climbed the tallest mountain in Colorado: Mount Elbert, elevation 14,440 feet / 4401 meters. On the ascent, I was reminded (again, as I’ve climbed many peaks) of the parallels between mountaineering and running a successful creative firm.

It’s a long, difficult, and often dangerous journey…

Yet utterly exhilarating.

Maybe I’m being hyperbolic? Perhaps. Decide for yourself if these mountaineering-as-metaphor statements ring true:

“Luck is where preparation and opportunity intersect.”
Without physical training and proper equipment, no amount of desire will get you through hard times. Be prepared (i.e. fit and geared up) so when the opportunity arises (i.e., the weather clears), you can seize it (i.e., make a run for the summit). Everyone will claim “You’re just lucky,” but you will know better.

“Look forward. Measure backward.”
The summit is inspiring, yes. But keeping your eyes on the summit – and all your peers who reached it before you – is disheartening. Confidence comes from looking backward to see how far you have climbed.

“Just do the next right thing.”
You will lose the trail. You will run out of food or water. You will encounter lightning and hail. In those moments, don’t waste time figuring out all the answers. Just focus on doing the next right thing… and take action.

“Setbacks do not equal failure.”
My first mountaineer guide taught me, “You’re not a true mountaineer until you’ve first turned around and NOT summited once.” Because sometimes the best decision is to reassess, reset, and even retreat.

“Camaraderie, not competition.”
At times along this journey, we all need community. Live and learn with your fellow climbers.

“Enjoy the view.”
When you reach the summit, savor it. Reflect on your accomplishments. Celebrate with your team.

I hope these ideas inspire your creative firm to keep climbing.

Cheers,

Joel

P.S. Hit Instagram to view my Mt. Elbert ascent and/or follow my ongoing industry insights, memes, travels, etc.


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