No 1. Inspiration and Action (lack of)

In January/February 2015 I will be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain. Over the period leading up to the climb I will be posting details of how I made the transition from middle-aged, unadventurous pen-pusher to someone who overcame the physical and mental challenges to achieve something worthwhile, both for myself and for a small number of charities. As I start these posts I have not achieved. I hope by writing this I will push myself to achieve, and will share with you the insights I have had along the way. I hope you can enjoy the journey, and the lessons, as well.

  1. Inspiration and Action (lack of)

Everest. My first contact with a climber was when I attended a professional institute event in Leicester and heard Ian Woodall speak of his experiences of climbing Everest. Ian started with a comment something along the lines of “It was a cold and bleak night in Kathmandu”. The very mention of that mountainous city brought half-remembered scenes (probably from an Indiana Jones’ film) back to life. Ian told of his various trials and tribulations on his climbs of Everest. He told of his successes and of the tragedies he encountered. I was captivated.

That was a long time ago. As a non-climber, I remained a non-climber! Life took me in different directions and continues to throw up fresh challenges. But my interest in mountain climbing remained, deeply hidden. A dream never actioned. A challenge never tackled. Until I went to another professional meeting a couple of years ago . . .

At that meeting, I became aware of Mount Kilimanjaro. Okay, so it is not as high as Everest, coming in at a ‘mere’ 19,336 feet (5895m) compared to the unparalleled heights of Everest (29,029 feet, 8,848 m), but a tad higher than Britain’s biggest peak, Ben Nevis, (4,409 feet, 1,344m). However, it does have the great advantage of being a mountain which can be climbed without climbing! By that, I mean that it is possible to trek to the top (with qualified guides) without the need for mountaineering skills. And it was a mountain potentially within reach of my capabilities . . .

The big mistake.

Having set in my mind the idea of climbing Kilimanjaro, I then proceeded to do the thing that most people do about most of the big ideas that come into their head. Nothing. I think I mentioned it to my wife Christine, and probably got a supportive but doubting ‘well if that’s what you want to do’. But beyond that, I told very few people. And that was my undoing. Because I had told practically no one it was easy to do, well, nothing. Who was going to ask me how I was getting on with my preparation? Who was going to hold me to my promise? In whose eyes was I going to look bad if I did not following through? No one.

Thinking back, I am reminded of a booked called ‘Dreams: Your Life, Your Future’ by John Peter Wilson. In this book John sets out his thoughts on why dreaming is so important to our wellbeing and our existence, and what you can do to both encourage dreaming and to make the most of it. He cautions that dreams alone will not do the job. Dreams have to lead to action for them to have any fruitful outcomes. In the words of Frank-N-Furter, “Don’t Dream it: Be It”.

So, Lesson No. One from my Kilimanjaro journey. Take Action. Without actions, dreams remain just that: dreams.  As soon as you can, you need to be taking action on your dreams. Tell people about them: Buy the ticket; Sign the papers. Whatever it takes to get you on the road to turning dreams into reality.

Look out for the second post and I’ll tell you about the rekindling of the dream and the power of telling people.


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