The View From a False Summit Can Change Your Course post image

I thought I was at the top.

I glanced with pride at the view of the long staircase disappearing down the mountain. It’s been a dream of mine to climb the Pikes Peak Incline, the steep, mile-long staircase at high elevation. I was glad to have scratched that off my endurance sports “bucket list.” Just as I climbed the last few steps, a voice came out of nowhere, “It’s a false summit.”

I quickly turned around and saw a fit guy sitting on a rock sipping from his water bottle. He smiled, “you’re only about two-thirds of the way up.” I climbed a few more steps, and stared over the boulders that had been blocking the view. He was right and he seemed to enjoy delivering the news, “but you have choices. You can always head back down now on the Barr Creek trail or keep going that way to the summit.”

The sun would be setting soon. I was hiking alone, and I had a 3 hour drive ahead to an important conference.

I stopped to consider the view.

We’ve all been there. We set a goal. We work hard to achieve it. And, just when we think we are done, the view changes. New circumstances, new information, and unanticipated disruptions lead us to reconsider. Is this was I wanted to accomplish? Do I still want this, or is there something bigger? Are there other paths to consider?

When life gives you false summits, stop and consider the views.

View Your Accomplishments

Don’t get discouraged. You’ve already accomplished a great deal. Just because there is more elevation to climb, don’t discount the steps you’ve already trod. Take time to breathe and celebrate what you have accomplished. Every plateau is an opportunity to rest and reflect.

View Your Options

Continuing to climb along the same path may be the perfect choice. There is also value in considering what’s available on the alternate routes. What’s for you on the switchbacks, or behind those other boulders? What and whom did you leave behind? Should you consider heading back down? What are the opportunity costs of each decision?

View Your Heart

What does your heart say? What feels right? How’s your energy? What are you climbing for? Which path will offer new experiences and growth?

View Your Resources

Who’s walking with you on this path? Who would (or could) join you on the alternative routes, who might you meet along the way? Do you have enough resources? How can you best prepare for the journey you chose?

The Journey Continues

Sometimes when we get where we think we are headed, the view changes. What we thought was the end-game offers new beginnings. Don’t just keep climbing without consideration. Each path offers different rewards.

On this particular journey, I did keep climbing and the summit was spectacular. Well worth the trip. I took the 4 miles of switchbacks down, also meaningful.

Are you standing on a false summit?

Is the climb you started offering new options?
Filed Under:   Authenticity & Transparency
Karin Hurt
Karin Hurt
Karin Hurt, is CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders and a former Verizon Wireless executive. Karin was named on Inc.’s list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers for Your Next Conference, the American Management Association List of 50 Leaders to Watch, and as a Trust Across America Top Thought Leader in Trust. She’s the award-winning author of two books, Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results— Without Losing Your Soul, and Overcoming an Imperfect Boss. She’s regularly featured in business publications including Fast Company, Entrepreneur, and Inc.

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What People Are Saying

Steve Borek   |   22 October 2012   |   Reply

Sometimes you and I post related topics. This week mine is on a 30 day challenge.

Pikes Peak is something I’ll need to put on my bucket list.

Karin Hurt   |   22 October 2012   |   Reply

Thanks, Steve. I am in for your 30 day challenge (left a comment on your site).

Sara Parrish   |   22 October 2012   |   Reply

This is a great post and probably one of my favorites. The beauty if life truly lies in the journey and the experiences we accumulate on the way. Our greatest gift is our ability to appreciate all things positive and negative along the way as part of the divine plan. The key is seeing the value in the sum of the parts not just the whole. Thanks for an inspiring post today!

letsgrowleaders   |   22 October 2012   |   Reply

Sara, Thanks so much for your kind words. I agree appreciating the journey can be so powerful.

susanna   |   22 October 2012   |   Reply

Thank your for linking to my Incline blog post. Interestingly enough,the falls summit has become somewhat of an ‘initiation’ for newbies. Yes, it teaches you about overcoming, pushing on and pushing through. I love it!

I also noticed that the incline has a reputation of ‘only for the really strong ones”, “too hard for little old me” and there are a lot of folks that WON’T try it because they HEARD it’s hard. You are correct: Its all in how you look at it… :-)

letsgrowleaders   |   22 October 2012   |   Reply

Susanna, Thanks so much for joining the conversation. It was fun watching the others on the mountain as well. Triumphs everywhere!

Michele Cushatt   |   22 October 2012   |   Reply

Great post, Karin! I have plenty of false summits. The challenge for me is allowing myself the freedom to choose from the different paths. It’s not a failure to change course. Something rewarding awaits on those paths as well. Thank you for your insights!

letsgrowleaders   |   22 October 2012   |   Reply

Michele, Thanks so much for joining the conversation. It was fantastic to meet you and to learn from you. You are an inspiration.

Curtis O. Fletcher   |   22 October 2012   |   Reply

The incline nearly killed me the first time I did it…and I KNEW the false summit was coming! Nicely SCORREd post Karin…always good to see such a clear application so quickly out of the shoot!!

letsgrowleaders   |   22 October 2012   |   Reply

Curtis, Thanks so much for your feedback…I had a great coach ;-) Namaste.

Joel W. Smith   |   24 October 2012   |   Reply

A good reminder to live with intention – to clearly choose. Well said Karin!

letsgrowleaders   |   24 October 2012   |   Reply

Joel, So great to meet you. Love your website. Thanks for joining the conversation…I know you are living with intention and doing it well. Namaste.