Thursday, November 29, 2012

You made it! Now what?

At the summit by Elizabeth W.K.
At the summit, a photo by Elizabeth W.K. on Flickr.
You've been climbing and climbing, and your sights have been focused on the summit.  The marker there started as a speck in your binoculars, hardly visible, and grew as you progressed closer.  Now you're here, looking out over the terrain that you covered in order to get here.  Now what?

  1. Celebrate - If you're physically standing on a summit, stop and appreciate how far you have come.  Remind yourself of the preparation and the energy it took to get you to this point.  Take a picture - or ten.  Enjoy a picnic while you're up there.  High five your climbing companions.  If you're not actually standing on the top of a mountain, only metaphorically so, do the same thing.  Take time to take note of your accomplishment.  
  2. Look around - Because of your achievement you have acquired a new vantage point.  You can see into distances that were not visible from your prior position.  You can see new possibilities.  Is one (or more) of them compelling enough to become your next destination?
  3. Rest for a moment - Notice that this doesn't read "stop completely".  You expended a lot of energy getting here, and the next leg of your journey will also require you to be strong and attentive.  Give yourself a bit of time to refresh, to summon your resources for your return to base camp.
  4. Assess - The person who stands here at the summit (that's you) is not quite the same person that set out on the journey.  What did you learn along the way?  What strengths and areas for further development revealed themselves during the climb?  How can you leverage or even further strengthen the strengths?  Are your non-strengths items that need to be shored up (potential deal-breakers,) or can you work around them by effectively applying your strengths?
  5. Chart your next climb - You might need more than a literal moment to do this.  You might need to assimilate all of the new information from this adventure, give yourself a bit more recuperation time, accumulate fresh resources, etc.  But unless you want this most recent achievement to define you, you probably have many more journeys ahead.
  6. Get back on the mountain - Take advantage of the properties of momentum and stay in motion.  When you sit too long your muscles start to atrophy.  The fears of heights that you conquered will sneak back into your awareness.  The seductive comfort of no challenge will lure you into an easy chair from which there is really no good view of the landscape.
Leaders are serial achievers.  The sizes of their mountains vary, and their choices of routes have different degrees of difficulty.  But leaders accumulate life lists of summits.  What's the next one you want to conquer?

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