Quandary WarningsDuring our recent family trip to Breckenridge, my wife and I hiked our first 14er – a mountain with a summit of at least 14,000 feet. We decided to attempt this almost a year ago after we had hiked a mountain that was around 12,000 feet outside of Estes Park, which had not been too tough. We felt like we were up for the challenge. Famous last words, right? Our target mountain was Quandary Peak with an elevation of 14,265. It is a popular hike for first-time 14ers. Perfect for us.

I continue to find things in my personal life that are great examples of how to handle the business side of my life. Frankly, when you own a business (or several) the line between the two is very blurry. I’m going to share three key things I encountered during our hike that I believe directly relate to running a business.

Be Ready to Adapt

The week before our hike we found out that there was still considerable snow on top of the mountain. We hadn’t counted on dealing with slick surfaces on the top or possibly having to hike through 8-12 inches of snow. While this threw us a major curve, after much discussion, we decided to still move forward. However, we got some different gear to help with traction.

Rarely in the business world will things go exactly as planned. The most successful are those willing and ready to adapt to their environment.

Look to the Experienced

As a general rule, we’ve found that hiking trails are marked pretty well. This certainly helps you navigate forward and gives you some assurances that you are not lost. We found that as we got closer to the summit the snow covered most of the trail, creating some uncertainty on which way was the best way. Compound that with exertion and lack of oxygen and we were poised to make some bad decisions. Obviously, we knew we needed to go up, but some of the paths were significantly harder than others. We were fortunate to come across several experienced hikers that gave us great advice on how to move forward – saving us precious time and energy that we could have expended if we had guessed.

When you come across significant challenges in life, it’s best to look to others that have traveled the road before you. Think of the time and energy you can save.

Don’t Do It Alone

I was fortunate to hike with my awesome wife. She blazed a lot of the trail for us when we were hiking Quandary and did a great job. To be honest, the only time we got off the trail was when I was leading… She has an excellent sense of direction and stays very calm when we come across unexpected challenges. Having a trusted companion to hike with made the entire journey better and when we were within 500 feet of the summit sucking air, we were able to motivate each other to take the next step. We are both wired that if we see the end in sight, there’s no way we don’t finish. Not sure if it’s desire or stubbornness, but the key is that we had each other to lean on.

This is the same for our business. Success will not be found by going it alone. Being able to rely on others for inspiration, motivation, and accountability is what helps many succeed where others struggle. Whether it is a mentor, business coach, or a peer advisory group, having a partner is essential.

Climbing Quandary was a great experience. It took planning, training, and determination to make it to the top. I found it similar to training and running a marathon in that you have to commit to the process before you take your first step. Once we got to the top, the view was worth every difficult step. It will be an experience I will always remember and I am grateful that I could share it with my wife.

What’s your next first step?