Climbing Higher and Returning Transformed with Everest-Level Resilience
Posted in: PSA Partnership
PSA has shaped our recent Partnership Webinar series to meet you where you are and support you in your leadership journey during the pandemic. Our most recent webinar continued in that vein with a focus on resilience. High-altitude climber and expedition leader, Jim Davidson, shared what he learned during numerous perilous climbing experiences to spark the belief we can come back from challenges stronger than before with Everest-level resilience.
Jim had been expedition climbing for 10 years when his life changed forever. His incredible escape from an 80-foot-deep crevasse on Mt. Rainier after losing his climbing partner is featured on an episode of The Discovery Channel’s show, I Shouldn’t Be Alive. After taking some time off after his near-death experience, Jim decided he wanted to tackle Mt. Everest. He started the climb after much preparation, but an earthquake hit Nepal, causing two avalanches to cut through his camp. Jim was fortunate in that he and his comrades were unscathed, but they had to abandon their mission to tackle Everest.
If anyone has experienced extreme levels of stress, challenges, and resilience, it’s Jim. Adapt his methods for overcoming difficult circumstances to build resiliency and reach new heights in your career, within your teams, and within your organization.
Find Your Sources of Resiliency
When things go wrong, you must endure the situation and start overcoming the problem. To do this, look past yourself and identify your sources of resilience from your obligations to others, whether it be others counting on you for direction, to bring income home, or something else. For Jim, getting back to his family and honoring the sacrifice of his fallen friend were what enabled him to push through fear and endure more than he believed possible. If you know where your sources of resilience come from before a challenge, you can tap into them that much quicker to move towards a solution.
Build Team Resilience
According to Jim, if you want to go higher in business and in life, you must do more and become more. As both the risks and rewards increase, you will need to trust and rely on your teammates more than ever before. Practice these leader behaviors to boost resilience and set the tone for your team:
- Have situational awareness and accept change to adapt quickly. Be realistic about new plans and trajectories when everything has changed. You and your team may need to pivot and survive sometimes instead of achieving your original goal.
- Keep messaging honesty, transparency, and optimism when things are challenging. Do not ignore the problem, but keep the focus on moving forward.
- Remind your team of what they have accomplished despite adversity in the past and provide assurance that you can do it again.
- Be clear, calm, and visible in times of trouble. Leader presence, body language, and tone can go a long way. In Jim’s words, “step forward and step up.”
- Set expectations for behavior in crisis by modeling it yourself. “Fear is contagious, but so is confidence,” Jim shared. You do not have to have everything under control or have all the answers in order to project confidence and spark resilience in your team.
Adapt a Summit Mindset
During his second Everest attempt, Jim was in better shape physically and mentally because of his previous “failed” experience. The climb was a slow, gradual journey that required moving backwards in order to move forward multiple times and long periods of waiting for the right weather. When you are close to summiting your challenge, don’t drop your guard. Instead, practice these three behaviors as you fight towards your goal:
- Remain diligent—there is no room for complacency
- Stay disciplined—follow plans and trust the systems that have gotten you this far
- Remember that previous challenges have made you resilient
You can develop uncertainty fatigue from solving one problem followed by the next. Jim shared that it is important to find a way to recover so you can re-engage with the problem. If you want to perform down the road, you must carve out recovery time along the way. During that down time, set your next big goal, and then test yourself to see if you are ready. If you are still fatigued, listen to your body and take more time. Try scheduling recovery periods when planning your next Everest-level challenge.
Do More of What Works
As individuals, leaders, and organizations, we must embrace the challenges that come our way, adapt to necessary changes, and refine ourselves and our processes relentlessly in order to survive and keep climbing higher. What you do during the pandemic to survive should stem from your culture and what worked well before. For example, if you previously hosted team birthday parties and happy hours, find a way to keep doing those things at home to keep engagement high. Summitting pandemic challenges requires you to think about your strengths, find new workarounds, and be transparent with your team about the possibility for setbacks.
Keep Grinding it Out
If you are constantly trying to refine yourself by taking on greater challenges, you will find yourself in an upward spiral where you can handle larger sales, manage more teams, inspire and uplift others, and acquire new skills and abilities. Jim’s advice? “Just keep grinding it out. With persistence, you can make it through one challenge and the next. There is always another setback coming. Refine yourself, your team, and your process, and start again.”
It’s our goal at PSA to spark resiliency in our community as we continue to adapt, grow, and face new circumstances. If we can be of assistance to your organization as you summit your next business challenge, feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also don’t forget to check back with us to see when our next webinar is scheduled.