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Inspiration from a Blind Mountain Climber

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

I recently met Erik Weihenmayer, the first and only blind man to climb the seven summits.  On the night I met him, he was speaking to a small group of clients, colleagues, and friends of  The Prouty Project.  Jeff Prouty and his team are talented and well-known consultants in the Twin Cities who specialize in strategic planning, organizational development and board development.  My husband is a client of Prouty, and so I was gifted with a ticket to join him for this evening.  And, what an evening it was.  Erik talked about his desire to “reach” in spite of the disease he was born with that left him blind by the time he was thirteen years old.

Reach.  Of everything he said, and believe me when I say it was all riveting, when he talked about “reach”,  I was inspired.  He talked about reaching into the future to attain your goals and reaching into the darkness with the belief that what you’ll find is exactly what you are meant to have, even though you can’t see what’s there.  And, he talked about reaching for the next ledge on a grueling climb to make progress, one small step at a time.  He reminded me that goals are achieved and visions are realized when we reach for them.  We can imagine all we want, but we must reach for what we want.  Very little comes to us if we just stand in place and wait.  Erik didn’t let his lack of vision exclude him from experiencing life with exhilaration.  That’s him in the picture, without goggles, standing on the summit of Mount Everest.

In leadership, on teams, and in life, we must reach for what we believe in and what we want.  It’s really very simple, and completely challenging.  Reaching takes an act of faith, and in the case of a blind mountain climber (and often those of us who can see just fine), it takes courage.  We must have faith that we will find the thing we are reaching for, and we must have courage that if we reach we won’t fall.  Of-course, sometimes we will fall.  And, that’s life.  We must reach anyway.  Because most of the time, when we reach, we’ll find something . . . even if it wasn’t exactly what we’re reaching for.  While the result might not be the top of Mount Everest, it may be a small victory that inspires us to reach further next time.

In my effort to “reach” to achieve my goals, as Erik has inspired me to do, I will take action . . . do something . . . try.  The point is to reach in some way and toward something.  There isn’t a right or wrong way to reach.  You just gotta do it.  Okay, so I might not get what I’m looking for.  I might get something more.

In awe,

Lynae

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