One of the most rewarding, and challenging experiences of my life was when I ascended Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania in 2011.
It's not quite a "climb" but rather a slow hike, and the key to making it up to the top is by walking VERY SLOWLY, or as they say in Tanzania - "Pole, Pole" (pronounced Poh-lay, meaning "take it slow and easy"). You can't take more than a few very slow steps at a time.
"Pole Pole" isn't just a Swahili phrase that encourages you to walk slow, but it's also a way of life in Tanzania. The deeper meaning behind the translation is "slow down to enjoy the journey."
When you climb "Kili," as the locals call it, it's hard to resist the urge to walk faster than you're allowed. Following an experienced guide you are forced to take it slow step by slow step so that your body can acclimate to the altitude.
Meanwhile, local porters who have made the climb hundreds of times are rushing past you with oversized luggage and bags hauled over their heads so that they can set up your next campsite.
You start the three day hike to the top through a beautiful lush green forest leading to grassy, open fields, and ultimately through a barren and cold mountain desert until you reach the base of the peak.
From there it's another 7 hour extremely steep climb in total darkness as you ascend up to the top of one of the highest peaks in the world.
It is not for the faint of heart, but when you make it to the "roof of Africa" and watch the sunrise, it is an emotional and life-changing experience.
As I look back on that experience, I can't help but make the parallels between the climb up Kilimanjaro and the "climb" up the mountain that you will face in your career.
The peak can look so daunting and so far away. At the same time, you can get so eager to want to move as fast as you can to reach the top, even though you're being told by those supporting you along the way that you have to take it slow.
There are times when it's lush, green and feels like an easy stroll, and other times when it's cold, dark, and barren, and path is incredibly steep and difficult.
You might feel impatient at the pace you're going, and get discouraged when you see others carrying heavier loads and are cruising up the mountain faster than you are.
If the goal is to make it to the top of the mountain, YOU WILL GET THERE! It just might take going at a different pace than others, walking an alternate route, making more stops than others along the way, and crossing difficult terrain along your career path.
If you're determined enough to succeed, take it step by step, and live "Pole Pole," you'll eventually reach the peak, and enjoy the journey along the way.
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