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What’s your Everest?

Colin O’Brady likes to ask that question – and not just because he has climbed Mount Everest. Climbing it was his childhood dream. And he believes too many of us have given up on our own without finding anything equally exciting to replace them. We get so caught up in what we think we have to do in our lives that we stop listening to our hearts.

But it’s not too late: “There’s no clock on our hopes and dreams,” Mr. O’Brady insists in his book, The 12-Hour Walk.

To get in touch with your dreams, he suggests taking a long, solitary walk. He recommends it be a half day (12 hours), with no music, podcasts or other diversions, and your phone on airplane mode, available only for an emergency or to record a note to yourself. There’s no detailed agenda for the walk. You simply want to find your Everest – and convince yourself it’s attainable.

That means grappling with the limiting beliefs that are holding you back: “Your best life awaits,” Mr. O’Brady says.

Ideally the walk should start from your home. Before you set out, record a short video of yourself stating your intentions and what limiting beliefs you want to silence. These are some of the main ones holding us back:

  • “I hate being uncomfortable”: The problem is that can lead us to spending our life in comfortable complacency, missing the adventure and full experience available to us. “Discomfort is often the toll that must be paid to achieve fulfilment,” Mr. O’Brady says.
  • “I’m afraid of what people will say”: Fear of criticism can deter us from daring to commit to our dreams. But anyone who has ever achieved great things has been criticized by someone at some point. Regardless of what you do, he argues, people are going to have an opinion of you. Moreover, at the end of your life you are unlikely to look back and say, “I’m really glad I avoided criticism.”
  • “I’m afraid of failing”: He failed to make the Olympics both as a swimmer and a triathlete. Yet as an adventurer-explorer he still holds 10 world records for his various exploits. He succeeded because he failed, learning from those disappointments and choosing to keep trying. “To unlock your best life, reframe your aversion to failure. You’re going to fail sometimes, but there’s no need to be afraid,” he writes. Those failures will be building blocks to eventual success.
  • “I don’t know what to do”: When the stakes are high and you feel terribly uncertain on what path to take, Mr. O’Brady argues you actually do know in your gut what will make you happy. The problem is you are confused by what you think people expect of you. Turn down that external noise. Let your intuition guide you.
  • “I don’t have enough time.”: His own experience was that for his Everest and other achievements he had to cut out the unnecessary to focus on his goal and passions. The average person, he says, spends five to six hours per day on screens not related to work. Just subtract two hours each day, and you have gained 14 hours every week. If you spend your time wisely, you can reach your high points.
  • “I don’t have enough money”: Here he urges you to set a specific goal, be clear on why you want the money – what benefits will accrue – and get creative on how to raise the needed funds. “What I’m advocating isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme. It’s possible, likely even, that reaching your specific financial goal will take time. The key: Don’t give up,” he writes.

So commit to the walk. It will be an exercise for your feet, calves and legs – and also for your mind, as you sort through those limiting beliefs and find your Everest.

Quick hits

  • Senior leaders in organizations don’t have the time for a speaker who wanders all over the place when sharing their ideas. Presentations coach Gary Genard says that just as a corral keeps horses from wandering, you need to restrain yourself, telling them, “there are four things I want to cover” or “I think there are three possible answers to that question.” Corral yourself.
  • When tempted to quit, express gratitude, executive coach Dan Rockwell says. Gratitude is energy to keep going.
  • Good storytelling begins with pain, warns communications coach Nick Morgan. At the core of every great story is conflict, which means someone is in pain. “That’s why most business storytelling is so bland and forgettable: Businesses focus on delivering solutions, not problems, and typically want to avoid pain,” he says.
  • Ottawa-based sales coach Colleen Francis recommends a “triad tempo” for your social media strategy: Pick three types of media (for example, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter) and, three times a week, do three original things on each of those media – either something you or your marketing department has written.
  • Make mistakes. Just don’t make them permanent, advises James Clear, author of Atomic Habits.

Harvey Schachter is a Kingston-based writer specializing in management issues. He, along with Sheelagh Whittaker, former CEO of both EDS Canada and Cancom, are the authors of When Harvey Didn’t Meet Sheelagh: Emails on Leadership.

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