What makes a winner? Climbing up Kilimanjaro can give you important clues, writes business celebrity Miranda Naiman, founder & managing partner of Empower. The Tanzanian consulting firm provides talent & insight for clients across Africa
It’s 2:17am on a December day and my tightly booted-feet trudge gradually forward in zig-zag formation in eerie darkness. An artic breeze bites my exposed. It’s Day 4 of our Kilimanjaro journey. It was a decision I had made long before beginning the 6-day trek. I knew this was pure competition against myself; the power of my mind, the strength of my body and the will power to stay focused against all odds.
Suffice to say the climb is not for the faint-hearted – a member of our party passed out on arrival needing oxygen and emergency evacuation. A word of caution to know your limits – we all know what we must know. I’m sharing what I learnt on this journey .
Oil your Machine Four weeks prior to the climb I started eating clean – I’m already a strict Pescatarian so this was an easy transition – I did 30mins of yoga each morning and a 2-week HIIT challenge. I oiled my machine with intent and my end goal in mind: Uhuru or bust! As I sat on the rock under the Uhuru Point signboard at 5895m I knew I may not be the fittest; but by golly this body worked a miracle to carry me here.
The power of intention What the mind can conceive, you can achieve. As we flew to Moshi the night before our climb, I listened to a 5-minute ‘motivation to climb a mountain’ on loop. ‘Climb Warrior! Climb Soldier! ‘a brash American voice blared into my ear. The same voice spoke to me throughout the journey. Without control of your mind, you will forever be limited in life. This has been one of the biggest lessons from my journey. Harness it and achieve what you will.
Energy is everything Being the only woman in the party didn’t bother me. Bonus: My brother and I have uncovered a unanimous love for mountaineering and plan to take annual trips together to scratch the itch.
Little gains count, too What felt like insignificant progress – 10 steps forward on the volcanic sands that fought to slide you backwards – was all it took to succeed. The journey reminded me of Desmond Tutu’s infamous words ‘there is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.’ Everything daunting can be accomplished by taking on just a little at a time.Heed your experts’ advice. Kilimanjaro is hinged on a delicate ecosystem that involves an entire community of experts who make the journey possible. Listen to the combined knowledge of your guides. Climbing the mountain supports countless families. Knowing that a personal challenge can have socio-economic impact makes it all the better.