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Wednesday, September 05, 2018

The Value of Accomplishment


Over 30 years, having represented hundreds of business owners, Mirus Capital Advisors has learned a great deal about the kinds of people that build successful businesses and create real value.  And along the way, we made an important discovery.   A discovery that has helped us serve our clients in ways that make the process and outcomes as fulfilling, complete and successful as possible.   That discovery is that for most of the business owners we’ve worked with, their definition of accomplishment goes well beyond pure financial return.   The successful sale of their business includes tremendous consideration for their employees, the continuity of their businesses, their own legacy and future growth and expansion opportunities for their employees and their products and/or services.

Having discovered that the true value of accomplishment is delivered in many very personal ways,  often well beyond the financial outcomes of a deal,  I wanted to share a new blog post entitled the Value of Accomplishment as a way to share the personal stories of those individuals living lives that VALUE ACCOMPLISHMENT.

I’d like to share the story of my son and me recently summiting Mt.  Kilimanjaro.  Mt.  Kilimanjaro, located in Tanzania, stands 19,341 feet; it is the highest peak in Africa and the tallest freestanding mountain in the world.   The picture of Kilimanjaro below was taken by NASA from the International Space Station.   You can see its flat snow covered peak surrounded by clouds.

My son Myles is twelve and a rising 7th grader, who is athletic with a healthy competition level, but with limited trekking experience.  Originally, when I mentioned the idea of joining me, Myles was uninterested and fearful of all the things that could go wrong in Africa – think exotic diseases, poisonous snakes, etc.    I should mention that Myles is a conservative kid who lives with a healthy dose of anxiety and, as such, upon learning of a new opportunity, wants to inventory all of the perceived risks.    In other words, Myles is not a natural risk taker like his younger brother; conversely, he is generally a risk-averse kid.

Ultimately, Myles decided to join the expedition after we had several frank conversations about the real risks of the trip, such as high altitude sickness, and more importantly, him realizing the bragging rights that would come with summiting the tallest free standing mountain in the world.

Leading up to the August trip, Myles and I spent most Saturdays in the White Mountains training for the demands of a 45 mile trek where we would need to gain 15K feet of elevation over 6 days if we were to successfully summit.   I could see Myles building confidence toward achieving his goal every Saturday.  This was particularly true with the completion of several long 10 hour days, where Myles’ frustration, exhaustion and impatience led to his trail nickname “Almost there”.

Finally the day arrived and we found ourselves at the base of the Lemosho Trail with thirteen other friends, family and former clients.   We would take the next 8 days to hopefully summit and return to the trail head for a well-earned shower and good night sleep in a bed.  The six days leading up to summit day were filled with amazing beauty and much needed acclimatization, given that most on our crew lived at sea-level.   One day did not pass without Myles hearing from random passersby who upon learning his age invariably said, “You are a rock star.”   The attempt at the summit would begin at 11PM in the dark and under the stars.  When we set out that evening it was incredibly clear, windy (30-50 mph) and cold, with a wind chill that would approach -20° F at higher elevations.

We would hike under the cold and star-filled night for over 6 hours.   The trek up 4K feet to the summit was broken up with intermittent breaks to rest and drink fluids.   The only problem was that all of our water had frozen and staying warm became increasingly challenging.   On several occasions, Myles said, “Dad, I can’t do it.”  “I just want to sleep.”   “I think I’m getting frostbite on my fingers and toes.”   Suffice it to say, Myles was not the only one questioning his resolve to carry on in the darkness in the hopes of seeing the sunrise and ultimately summiting.

Thankfully, he internalized the support of everybody in the group, enjoyed some hot tea and carried on up the mountain.  By 5:30 the darkness turned to light and the horizon was filled with orange, pinks and purples.   While the summit was still thousands of feet away, the sunrise represented a mental victory and sense of progress for us all, particularly Myles, who found his second wind.   While Myles was still cold and tired, day break was a turning point where his mantra changed from, “Dad, I can’t do this” to “Dad, I can do this.”

It would take another three hours of “Pole Pole” (Swahili for slow steps) before we reached Stella Point at 18,850 feet, 500 meters from the Uhuru Peak summit.    We would need to cross the final 500 meters of ice, snow and frozen rock to achieve our goal.   Myles led the group the rest of the way and summited along with the remaining 13 at around 8:30AM.    So what did the value of achieving this accomplishment mean for Myles, beyond the coveted bragging rights with his buddies?

First and foremost, Myles learned about the value of risk taking.  He got out of his comfort zone and earned a new level of confidence in himself.  He learned of the value of remaining committed to his goal despite inevitable physical and mental challenges.  He learned about the importance of preparedness and how it can help overcome personal insecurities.   Finally, he learned about the value of teamwork and how there is no shame in asking for help.   While the value of this accomplishment will not be fully understood for years to come, I do believe we’ll look back on this trip as a transformative rite of passage for Myles from childhood to manhood.

Finally,  I want to quickly give shout outs to three former Mirus Capital Advisors’ clients, Chris Crane, Mark Kushinsky and Edward Wagner, who joined the Kilimanjaro expedition and successfully summited Kilimanjaro with Myles and I. I’m proud of their accomplishment and in calling them my friends.

 

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