The Acclimatization Of Success

Climbers who have reached the top of Everest say acclimatization takes several weeks when you get over 3000 meters. The idea is to expose the body gradually to higher and higher altitudes, forcing it to adjust, and then returning to a lower elevation that the body is used to, to recuperate.

Without acclimatization, even if you’re in superb physical condition, altitude sickness results. Symptoms of altitude sickness range from a mild headache to incapacitation and death.

I wonder if we need some of the same rigor when we climb whatever you define as your personal “Everest.”

Here are a few guideposts to help you acclimatize:

  1. Define what success means to you. Be sure this is your mountain, not a mountain someone else expects you to climb.
  2. Know your values and stay connected to them. You don’t want to gain success but lose your soul. Be careful that you don’t reach the summit only to discover you’re on the wrong mountain.
  3. Understand the difference between primary success and secondary success. Steven Covey defined the difference where secondary success includes position, popularity, public image, and profit. Primary success is about the person you become on the journey. Don’t confuse the two.
  4. Sustain your character. When your wealth is lost, something is lost; when your health is lost, a great deal is lost; when your character is lost, everything is lost. In an age of secondary success, polls seem to matter more than moral conviction, and what’s on the outside has become more consequential than what’s on the inside.
  5. Festina lente. Festina lente is a classical adage and oxymoron meaning “make haste slowly”. It was adopted as a motto by the emperors Augustus and Titus, the Medicis and the Onslows. Climbing the summit of success too quickly – without deliberate, thoughtful planning and a sustained connection to your heart – can be dangerous, if not fatal.