Categories: Gettin The Mind Right

On reaching your summit

Happy Monday!

In December 2015 I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro with a small group of friends. I’ll never forget that experience as it served me in so many different ways. Today I’m reminded of one particular part;  the search for the summit—the top of the mountain.

I remember driving from the airport to Moshi, taking in the view from the jeep that picked us up at the airport.

Side note: that jeep was a whole experience in itself! The gas gauge was on empty, the “Check Engine” light was on and the driver didn’t speak English. Oh and there was a constant buzzing noise, not the type a jeep makes but the kind that sounds like something is broken. Ha ha…ah man. One thing about traveling is that you’ve got to put your current situation in the context of where you are, as opposed to where you are from. What we are used to here is far from reality in every other part of the world—some places more than others—and Africa is no exception.

I digress.

Even though it was night when we arrived, I remember just looking in the distance wondering, “Is that Kilimanjaro?

The next morning in we went for a walk around Moshi. Again we tried to see Kilimanjaro’s peak through all the clouds, but just wasn’t visible.

When we arrived at the jungle basecamp, we saw a peak through the clouds and naturally we asked the porters, “Is that IT??


And this continued with every camp. The higher we climbed the more peaks we saw. And about each one, we asked, “Is that IT?



Finally at one of the last camps, for only a couple of minutes, the clouds opened up and I saw part of the actual peak—the summit. But even then, it was a slight view and still very cloudy.

The very last trek before we reached the summit was the shortest and by far the hardest. We were at an altitude of about 19,000 feet and literally every step was a challenge. Even mere hundreds of feet away, we couldn’t see the peak.

Honestly, if there wasn’t a sign and if our porters didn’t tell us, at that point I wouldn’t have known we had hit the final peak.

Of course Kilimanjaro’s summit was incredibly beautiful and BRIGHT.  Oh man was it bright! Even then we could only enjoy it for a few moments; climbers are permitted only a short time to celebrate at the summit. But when I look back at the trip, I think less about those brief moments at the summit and far more about the journey it took to get there; the discomforts, the challenges, the laughs, the environment, and the view.

Why I Share This

No matter what your goal is and where you are at, you won’t see the finish line for 99% of the time. If you are making progress daily, you’ll experience peaks in the near distance. Acknowledge any interim peak or small milestone, but don’t get discouraged that it’s not “The Summit.”

Understand that with each bit of progress you are getting closer each day but it doesn’t necessarily mean you will see the finish line. Often the real progress comes in a form that is hard to recognize. Experiencing “failures” and just persisting through the muck are still real progress because it is through those failures and tough treks that you are forced to adapt and change (grow and get better).

Know that the closer you get, the harder it gets. No doubt there are challenges at every point along the way, but at every new “camp” there presents a greater challenge that, by virtue of your making it to that point, you DO have the inner strength to overcome.

At the end of it all, when you get to that goal you’re chasing, there’s about 20 minutes of satisfaction before you’re wondering what’s next and then the process starts all over. This is human nature and it’s a good thing. We are designed to constantly grow and change…that is the essence of life.

Sometimes, or as it’s been in my experience most of the time (lol), you don’t get your exact end goal. Don’t let that discourage you because to get to that point, you grew into a stronger person and are now ready for the next chapter of your journey.




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