Blog Post #466 WHY #2

Getting to WHY – part 2

George Mallory was a British mountaineer who made three attempts at climbing Mount Everest.  On the third climb, it was unsure if they made the summit and then died or died before getting to the summit.  An eyewitness said he saw to figures close to the summit, but it was confirmed if they made it or not.

But asked about “Why he climbed Mount Everest”; Malloy gave a famous quote “Because it is there”.  That really isn’t much of a ‘why” answer. There are a lot of things “there”. Why did I go to the new grocery store?  Because it is there?

My analysis suggests that Mallory deep inside had a desire for adventure, for challenges.  He didn’t want to live a complacent life.

Getting to the real “WHY” can be hard.  Sometimes it can be hard to say why you picked one thing over another.  Mallory could have climbed any mountain, but choose Everest “because it is there”.  Would he have climbed Everest if it wasn’t the highest mountain in the world? Maybe, but maybe not.  

What if Mallory wanted to climb the ten highest mountains in the world – would he have started with Everest?  Maybe, or maybe not. If he reached the summit (and returned), he would have fame (if not a fortune as well). That is an incentive.  If he was the first to climb K2 – the second highest mountain in the world, that might be noteworthy in the climbing world, but might justify a small one-paragraph announcement in the London Times, while climbing Everest would be a front-page notice.  

There is an adage “You cannot discover new lands if you don’t lose sight of the shore”.  To get to new lands, you have to get outside your comfort zone. But, WHY do you want to discover new lands?  Because they are there?

Think of these terms:

– Ambition
– Challenge
– Curiosity
– Desire
– Passion
– Entrepreneurship

Do you have these in your life?  Do you desire to find new shores?  Do you have the ambition to climb mountains (be those literal/true mountains; or challenges at work or challenges in your mind)?  “Curiosity killed the cat” might be a true statement, but are you curious? Do you want to see what’s on the other side of the hill?  

Or, are you content with where you are?  Is ambition good? Is being contented good?

Those are questions you need to answer.  What is deep inside you? On your deathbed will you smile and say “I conquered <goal>”?  Or will you say “I never even tried to do <goal>”?

In these series of lessons, I’ve suggested you keep a positive attitude, you set goals – including big hairy audacious goals, to be remarkable, to shoot for great (not just good); and (lately) to figure out your WHY.  

A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.  Where are you going to go?


Posted by Bruce White

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