In life what you receive is valuable, but what you BECOME is far more in-valuable because no one can take that away from you. And in "becoming" more, we often learn why the phrase is "growing pains'’; not “growing pleasures”. The test arrives before the lesson plan, and even the best study and practice cannot truly prepare for the "tests" we decide to administer to ourselves.

In this month’s story; Eric Garza's climb is as much about the quest to summit Everest as it is to capture and understand the great depths within himself. Follow Eric’s steps in the story below and you will start to see some things about yourself in both his climb and his internal descent.

No matter what path you take in life it’s going to be laden with risk. From the presumed safety of an office job, to the harrowing feats of a Hollywood stuntman, it’s all a double-edged sword. So whether you’re dealing with the existential grind of a typical nine-to-five or the adrenaline pumping thrill ride of something more desirable, the perils of both existences can be mitigated…
But it’ll take a tremendous amount of arduous physical and mental work to do so.

Eliminating ego is the most important aspect of this equation, the accomplishment of which will then allow you to truly prepare for the challenges you will ultimately have to face.

A Foregone Conclusion
As a boy Eric Garza loved reading National Geographic and Life Magazine. He spent countless hours studying the maps of huge mountains and reveling in the adventures he knew scaling them would inevitably bring. But of all the stories that lit up his imagination, the ones that enchanted him the most were those of Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. Their famed 1953 summit of Mount Everest (along with that of Jim Whittaker, the first American to do so 10 years later) inspired young Eric, and from that moment on it was as if climbing this mystical mountain himself was a foregone conclusion.

Mount Everest – Goddess Mother of the World
In 2005 Eric Garza turned 42 years old. By this point in life he had climbed mountains all over the United States and Asia, but now he was finally going to get the chance of a lifetime. Known throughout the world also as “Goddess Mother of the World,” Mount Everest reaches 29,035 feet into the heavens and is the most sought after conquest of all true mountain climbers.

Committing to this climb is not something one takes lightly. There would be myriad risks, any one of which could cost someone their life, but everyone on Eric’s three-man included a one-woman team of North Face athletes were eager to put themselves to the test. They planned to summit Everest from the Nepal side of the mountain, an incredibly dangerous endeavor which because of weather conditions hadn’t been accomplished all year—they were even warned that teams attempting this particular trek would die if they tried.

And Mother Nature did indeed almost dash these plans entirely.

Jet stream winds blew 100 miles per hour every single day, making a mockery of their timetable. The severe weather also made it impossible for teams to reach the coveted “Death Zone,” which began at 27,400 feet. With monsoon season fast approaching, the Khumbu Icefall was starting to come apart. Lying at the head of the Khumbu Glacier, this icefall and its breaking apart makes this stage of their most dangerous route much more deadly. Icefalls moves at such speed here that large crevasses open with little warning, towers of ice collapse suddenly, and huge blocks of ice the size of small cars to large houses tumble down the glacier. Estimates have the glacier advancing three to four feet down the mountain every day.

Time for Eric and his cohorts, who were climbing under the Mountain Madness flag, to accomplish their goal was rapidly running out.

The Final Assault
Once they received a final whether report, which offered a small window, the team counseled with one another and decided to forge on with one last final assault. After gathering the necessary supplies and adding two additional Sherpa groups, Eric and his thrill seekers set out to finish what they started. Soon they were able to establish lines from the Death Zone to the summit, which would allow others teams to reach the top of the mountain.

They were the first team to do this in all of 2005.

Uniting Your Collective Abilities
“The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses, behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.”—Muhammad Ali.

That intriguing quote could’ve been the opening lines of a powerful anthem that guided Eric and his team. They trained tirelessly for this expedition and when their time came, each and every one of them drew from ingrained physical and mental reflexes which gave them the ability to make split second life and death decisions.

Though this incredible feat took the collective athleticism, expertise, and determination of many driven individuals, what Eric Garza learned most from this experience was something he already knew. At the heart of everything was the simple fact that what you did or did not do had a direct impact on those around you. Uniting their collective abilities allowed his team to transform themselves from great athletes into remarkable athletes.
By the time they put their abilities to the ultimate test, all they really had to do was execute their highly-developed skills—it was as if reaching the top of the mountain was already accomplished.

Some of course could argue that this is a powerful (if not arrogant) statement when made with respect to Everest; however, the way it played out it appears that their fight really was won far away from witnesses.

Opportunity Meeting Preparation
Growing up Eric had the added benefit of being raised by a father who understood that in order to succeed in life, you had to be prepared. Though not even the best of us can take hold of all of life’s opportunities, having the odds in your favor is a great advantage to have. I’ve often heard it said that the outcome of one’s life can come down to the way a handful of days play out. Some of us will be blessed with countless opportunities while others may only get a few, so for those who go through their days failing to prepare, they may as well be preparing to fail.

Building Character – First Responders
Eric and the other Mountain Madness climbers built character every day that they were working on the mountain. Everything about Everest involved risk management and razor-sharp decision making, and in addition to worrying about their own safety, they also had to watch out for others.
As “First Responders” their team was the first to be radioed when an accident occurred. Upon receiving a call, they would mobilize the rescue and put themselves in great danger to save the lives of others. Since there was nowhere to run on the mountain fear was always present, which they used as fuel to turn themselves into great leaders.

Letting Go of Ego
Along with this dual role came not only the responsibility of having to save others, but spotting these potential “risk and rescues” before problems would inevitably arise. Far too often Eric and his team came across the loan climber who lacked the necessary oxygen, or the leaderless crew that padded around base camp all day. These kinds of ill-prepared people were easy to spot and were sure to fall apart; keeping a watchful eye on them only added to the difficulty of the climb.

Eric knew what the rest of his team did as well, that only ego separated the weaker climbers from the stronger ones. Ego in a leader hampers their ability up on the mountain, much the same way it does in any aspect of life—and on Everest this came with the distinct possibility for more immediate and dire consequences.

What a leader really needs is passion and humility. Possessing the ability to see past yourself so that you can understand and connect with the challenge will allow you to succeed. For three months up on that mountain Eric and his team shared a common goal and respected one another, which time and time again led them past the breaking point, where other teams often failed.

They worked as a team to achieve their magnificent and awe-inspiring feat. If you want to do the same, no matter what heights you are striving to reach, the first step down that road requires that you leave all pre-tense behind.
Ego will never get you to the top of Mt. Everest, nor will it get you through any of life’s many challenges.

So, what is your Everest? Where are you trying to take your life? Who are the people that belong on your "team", do you trust them to do all they can to support your climb? Are you prepared, well-conditioned, and equipped for your destination? What fears will you have to face and what obstacles are you determined to overcome? When do you start? When will you arrive? And, can you enjoy the journey and the views along the way? Who will you have to become to "summit"? Who will you be when you return?

Who will you share your lessons with and enable to make their own climb? The view from up high is incredible, but not if it is only you who see it. How many people are you meant to inspire to "see" the sights that their journey beholds for them? Finally, what are you waiting for?

Author's Bio: 

About James McPartland:
James McPartland (aka "Mac") is the Principal and Chief Inspiration Officer of the JMac Performance Group, a specialized management consulting firm focused on realizing the importance of the human potential in business. He is an entrepreneur, author, international speaker, and noted authority on leadership, team building, corporate wellness, and transformational change.

Mac focuses on helping successful leaders get even better by achieving positive lasting change in behavior (and results) for themselves, their people, and their teams. As a consultant and speaker, he has worked with senior executives in organizations from Fortune 500 corporations including The Dow Chemical Company, IBM, Allergan, Technogym, Les Mills International, Spinning and Total Gym, as well as non-profits such as the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.

Mac’s vast business experience includes:

• Expertise in strategic business modeling and business plan development, analysis and execution.
• Design and deployment of creative, effective and aggressive sales and marketing strategies
• Recognition of potential in business, people, and opportunities
• Strong communication skills in motivating and inspiring allegiance to company goals and core values
• Strategic recruitment of synergistic top executive and support staff talent
• Development of passionate corporate culture, commitment and productivity through credible leadership, incentive drivers and motivation training
• Proficient management analyzing and employing measurable key metrics to drive core objectives and outcomes
• Efficient execution of self-administered accountability systems motivated by incentives, recognition, and reward programs
• Track record of results. Built companies from start to $150mm in annual revenue, launched two additional companies in the health and nutrition space

Mac also actively participates in numerous events and organizations including the International Health and Racquet Sports Association, the American Heart Association, and the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. In addition he is currently active in U.S. Public Policy legislation that will positively impact the companies that provide wellness benefits.

He sits on the Board of two new health and wellness companies in California, Best Fit Data and Worthwell. Mac also speaks French, and is an active member for the World Presidents’ Organization.

James has been featured in numerous magazines and newspapers including The Register and Times of Los Angeles, Club Business International and The Business Journal. He has also been a guest on network TV and numerous radio shows.

In 2008 “Mac” was recognized at The Mayo Clinic by the President’s Council of Physical Fitness and Sports for his outstanding contribution to wellness. Additionally, his efforts were rewarded by the World President’s Organization with an award for leadership. After a year of preparation he led a group of 55 executives on a first of its kind business retreat to Vietnam.

James earned his Bachelor’s Degree from North Carolina State University. An avid fitness enthusiast, he has completed 37 marathons and 8 Ironman Triathlon events. He resides in Coto De Caza, CA with wife Mara and sons Luke and Logan.

About The JMac Performance Group:
A ‘Human Performance Company’ dedicated to improving the health and profitability of a company by unlocking the potential of its employees. Business and people development consulting is cultivated through seminars, workshops, and executive retreats.

If you would like to receive The JMac Group monthly communications, please visit our website 'home' page: and click 'SUBMIT'.

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