Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Vladimir Visotskiy… Why are successful and famous people so attracted to the mountains? Headhunter Konstantin Borisov knows the answer — he went to the mountains in the difficult life moment and found more than he was looking for.
Midlife crisis strikes us differently — the realisation that most things you have been dreaming about has not come true becomes evident. For some reason you do not live the life you imagined. We throw coins in the fountains, make wishes upon shooting stars, but that wishes do not hurry up to come true.
That’s why a couple of years ago I decided to do something meaningful every year. Something that would be interesting and challenge me personally, something that I would remember when I’m retired and tell my grandchildren about. In 2016 it was an auto race from Moscow to Vladivostok, and in 2017 I went in search for the answers to Elbrus — one of the dangerous and attractive places on Earth. Many people dream of visiting this site the whole life and I was one of them.
We gathered a team of 20 people with my colleagues for the expedition. But only I managed to go. Everyone else got last minute cancellations.
— Look, my wife doesn’t let me go...
— Hi, I can’t, my knee got hurt...
— I really can’t do this now, my wife asks to take care of our kid...
And so on.
In my opinion, the notion of commitment, determination and readiness to extend boundaries distinguish those who achieve outstanding results in life from those who don’t.
When I tell my acquaintances and clients about the climb, most of them say: “Oh, it’s my dream too!” But it sounds like a joke — especially when being told by a 50 year old CEO. “When will you stop dreaming and buy a ticket to Mineralnye Vody?”
To cherish your dream without trying to achieve it — it’s almost as romantic as being in love with a girl next door and never asking her out. It is a good story for a sad Françoise Sagan novel or for a bad sad life in reality.
Before climbing I spoke to an experienced mountain guide.
— What do you do for living? — he asks me.
— I’m a headhunter, I find the best top management candidates for big business.
— Сool! And do you know tycoon N?
— Not in person, I work for his team.
— And have you met a millionaire X?
— Unfortunately, haven’t met him yet.
It turns out that a 31 year old mountain guide knows in person more people from the Forbes list than an experienced headhunter. Almost all of them have been to Elbrus — most of the times while preparing to the Mount Everest climb. So what makes successful people climb mountains in extremely harsh physical conditions, armed with ice-axe, risk their lives? Inner nerve? Challenge? Maybe that’s why they manage to make decisions and build successful business?
All of them are used to leap into action and meet the challenges in business and personal life. The dream to conquer another summit does not look like a beautiful picture from the magazine to them. It’s a realistic goal that they will definitely achieve.
In case you are going to conquer Elbrus — here is my story. Duration of the tour with acclimatisation time is around 9-10 days. It is enough for the body to adapt to the low oxygen rate and high physical load. It’s impossible to predict how will your body behave during altitude sickness. Good physical training does not guarantee anything. Yes, the more slim and sporty you are, the easier it will be to climb, but this leg-up is not that big. To make the body adapt, one must increase the physical load gradually.
The first exhausting training days on Elbrus started from walking 20 km per day on the steep slopes. At first I perceived it only as physical challenge for the body that is used to comfortable life in Moscow. Not a single spiritual thought appeared in the aggregation of thoughts about how to hold on at least one more day and not to turn back home. Or how not to fall into an open crevasse or not to suffocate from the oxygen shortage at the heights of 5000 meters. But like it often happens to the sportsmen, one day I crossed the border of devilish discomfort and felt that my second breath came to life. It did not ease my climbing, but it looked like the thin air rebooted my perception of life.
Primary I challenged myself physically, but achieved much more. Mountains change people and often for better. Elbrus gave us all something we craved. Someone became more gentle and tolerant to others. As for me — while being in the process of a stressful divorce — I found my peace.
And it’s not only about hours that I spent looking at the magnificent views. While climbing for a couple of hours every day, you are always alone with your thoughts, it’s the type of luxury that you can’t afford in regular office fuss. You start counting steps or breathing in and out. And sooner of later fussy thoughts go away. They are replaced by peace and clarity. All the puzzle details come into their places. And I realized that the dream will never come true unless you make an effort and stop looking for excuses.
I often question myself: “Would I do it again if I knew what I know now?” And in the Elbrus case my answer is “Of course!”
But for the second time I’d be consciously going for inner peace.
However, I’m going for it anyway — this time to Kilimanjaro — the highest African peak.
Interview was given by Konstantin Borisov — a headhunter, founder of Support Partners Company, teacher of the Moscow School of Management “Skolkovo”, participant of the rating “1000 Top Managers in Russia” according to Kommersant Publishing House.
The sourse of the article in Russian can be found by the link.