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Having what it takes to succeed

January 8, 2013

Yesterday I was talking with Barbara, an IACCM member, about her experiences climbing mountains. Having conquered Mont Blanc and Kilimanjaro, she will depart shortly to ascend Everest (at least to about 6,500 meters).

We discussed the nature of the people who undertake these feats and Barbara explained the extent to which their success depends on mental resilience and determination. She described people of advanced age, people who had limited physical strength, people who suffered badly from height sickness, yet they made it to the top. Many of the people who give up are younger, physically fit – yet ready to abandon the challenge at relatively low levels of personal discomfort. They also have some extraneous reason to account for why they gave up; it is never a simple admission of personal responsibility.

Although the physical demands of contract and commercial management have few parallels to mountain climbing, the mental demands often do, At a time of such rapid change and uncertainty, we all face tough challenges that require personal resilience and determination. These may be around tackling change within the business, or leading reform within the function, or perhaps of developing personal skills or credentials for the future.  At IACCM, we see this through corporate projects, or member-led association initiatives, or individuals and teams embarking on professional certification.

As with ascending mountains, many never even reach base camp. Of those that do, a high proportion start the climb and turn back. They ascribe this to reasons such as lack of support or having too many demands on their time. Sometimes they simply dismiss the whole exercise as irrelevant or inappropriate to their needs. Whatever the excuse, the truth is that relatively few professionals have the resilience and mental stamina to pursue goals to completion unless there is someone behind them, forcing them along.

Looking at the needs of your business, your function or your personal goals in the year ahead, how many mountains will you have climbed?

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