by David DeFord
Jim Whittaker knows achievement. In 1963 he successfully
reached the summit of Mount Everest—the first American
to reach the world’s highest point. On that 29,028-foot
adventure he braved fifty mile per hour winds and 35 below
zero temperatures to literally crawl to the summit. That’s a
wind-chill factor of -85 degrees.
Whittaker has climbed to the top of 24,500-foot Mt. Rainer
81 times. He led an expedition to the second-highest peak,
the K2, but his team failed to reach the summit. But they
regrouped, trained harder, and he became the first American
to conquer K2. And his wife became the first woman to
reach its summit.
In 1990, before the Berlin Wall had fallen, he organized a
team consisting of five climbers each from the United
States, the Soviet Union, and China. This team, called the
“Peace Climb” reached the top of Everest, removed two
tons of garbage from the mountain, and sent a hopeful
message to the world.
Whittaker was the first employee of Recreation Equipment,
Inc. (REI) and served as its CEO for several years before
his retirement at age fifty.
Jim Whittaker knows success.
In his 78 years, he has learned many lessons. Here are his
- Always call “mistakes” “lessons”
- It’s not how high you climb, it’s how high you
bounce back up after you fall
- The biggest obstacle to reaching the top is a lack
of belief in oneself
- You learn the most when you’re out on the edge
Each of us has his own mountains to climb. We have
incredible achievements to pursue. We place ourselves in
the best positions to succeed when we learn from those who
know success. Let’s ponder the four lessons Jim Whittaker
has learned on the paths to his life summits. Let’s learn from
our mistakes, bounce back when we fall, believe in ourselves,
and take some risks.
Accept the challenges, so that you may feel the exhilaration
of victory. General George Patton
Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious
triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take
rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor
suffer much, because they live in the grey twilight that
knows not victory nor defeat. Theodore Roosevelt
If you advance confidently in the direction of your dreams,
and endeavor to live the life which you have imagined, you
will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.
Henry David Thoreau
I can promise you that the challenges you'll meet on the
road to success are far less difficult to deal with than the
struggles and the disappointments that come from being
average. Jim Rohn
Achievement seems to be connected with action. Successful
men and women keep moving. They make mistakes, but
they don't quit. Conrad Hilton
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