Essays on Facing Adversity and Change
After losing Mitch, I had no idea how difficult the Everest of grief would become. I spent many days and nights thinking about life's difficulties and the price we sometimes pray trying to deal with it. Everest's are unavoidable and many times they make us stronger - but sometimes, if we're not careful, we can get swallowed up in our efforts to face difficulties, cope with grief, reach a personal goal, or anything that requires our time, attention and effort.
Weighing the Cost of Your Everest
We've no doubt heard stories of climbers who lost their life on Everest - but consider the following analogy and exercise and see how it might apply in your own life.
Not many years ago there was a pair of mountain climbers that had their sights set on Mt Everest. After years of training and preparation they suddenly found themselves on the outskirts of Kathmandu peering into the towering mountainscape that stretched over 29,000 feet into the air. Not far from the cruising altitude of most commercial aircraft.
With great enthusiasm they set out for basecamp. They knew the risks of climbing and had conditioned for the ascent. After acclimating, to the new elevation, they heard word a storm was on its way.
Despite the risk of a storm, they made haste and began the final stretch of the climb. After significant effort, they reached the summit. At long last, their lifelong goal was courageously met as they stood where few humans have ever set foot.
With great enthusiasm they set out for basecamp and after many days and significant effort, they reached the summit. At long last, their lifelong goal was courageously met as they stood where few humans have ever set foot.
On their descent, a storm overcame them and both climbers died of exposure.
As these determined climbers realized their lives were about to end, I can't help but wonder if they regretted their goal. Both left behind families. Yes, they met their goal, but at what cost?
If given the choice, knowing the price they would ultimately pay, these climbers would have reconsidered their goal.
In like manner, consider the man who, at an early age, decided he wanted to become a millionaire. During his ascent to financial riches he gets married and starts a family, never taking his eye off his financial goal and bravely doing whatever is necessary to reach the summit.
At some point this man reaches his summit ... he makes his pot of gold and celebrates a job well done. Then, to his horror, on his descent to other things he values, he realizes he has destroyed his family in the process.
In both scenarios, the subjects had a lofty goal and their efforts were noble and noteworthy. The question they had to ask themselves was if the goal was worth it, in the end. Yes, goals require work, and as one person put it, "if our goals don't scare us, they're not big enough." But are some goals we aspire to worth the price we might ultimately pay to achieve them?
Then there are matters of grief - an Everest we don't want to climb, but we must. Sometimes we can get lost in our journey that we lose other things that matter a great deal to us.
Let's Have A Conversation
In what ways do you see this principle play out in your own life or the lives of others?
What have you been able to do to climb your Everest without sacrificing other things you care deeply about?
6 ways to know you're climbing the right mountains.
An Everest is anything you face that requires great effort on your part to climb. Consider this exercise. I'll draw out an example, but apply these same principles to your circumstance and replace the details with your own.
FIRST: He writes down the top 5 things he values most.
- Financial Security
- Relationship with God
SECOND: He then orders his values by priority.
1. Relationship with God
2. My Spouse
3. My Children
4. My Health
5. Financial Security
THIRD: He writes down the "Everests" he wants to climb. He lists a variety of things that will require work on his end to achieve, then picks ONE to work on:
Ability to Travel
Recognized in an industry
An Early Retirement
FOURTH: He then lists the things that are required to climb his Everest of professional advancement.
50 Hours a week away from home
Significant time away from family
Late nights at the office
Work from home on weekends
FIFTH: Then Kip starts to think of ways he might counterbalance the demands on his time in step 4 with things he can do to make up for the effort required to meet his goal. He writes:
Make regular phone calls with my family while I'm out of town. Have a genuine conversation.
Take your spouse on a date night regularly
Spend one-on-one time with kids when home, no matter how tired I feel.
SIXTH: Lastly, Kip must decide if his countermeasures (in step 5) can compensate for the price he will pay to achieve his goal. Will his Everest come at the cost of his highest values? If so, its the wrong mountain.
Things that cause us to grow and change are often a struggle - and these things become our Everest. Facing our Everests are growth agents in our lives - but we must not get lost in the climb.
Even in matters of grief and disappointment, if we get lost in the storms of grief, we can lose sight the things that matter most.
The aim of this exercise is to help us evaluate our struggle and find ways to preserve other things we value while facing our personal Everest's.
Sometimes our climb comes at the cost of greater values - and if we're not mindful, we may regret the price they ultimately paid for not paying the price to preserve the things that matter most to them.
Download this worksheet to weigh the cost of your Everest and determine what you can do about it.