A high caliber team of mountain athletes assembled for an ambitious expedition to a remote mountain with high granite and glacier peaks high above the remote jungles in Burma. Unlike a typical expedition up Mt. Everest, there were no porters, fixed lines. And, they were far away from any helicopter rescue or medical treatment facility. To even access the mountain took a journey of over a month through narrow trails on cliffs, leech infested swamps, and remote villages.

The team was not prepared to carry the excessive gear required for the journey inland, let alone up the mountain. They hired local villagers to help trek their gear and food. This month long journey to the mountain wore the team out before they even started up the sheer cliffs of the mountain.

As the team set-up base camp, some began to wonder what this was worth. Others had other commitments they were suppose to be back in the U.S. for. Even the team lead mentioned, she only had eight days to summit the peak before she had to return for a family vacation. Mark Jenkins, who’s idea it was to do this peak to begin with, wondered in his head, what the real commitment level was. Why did each person choose to be here or come at all? Fights ensued and the team became grumpy.

Despite limited time, the team began to climb these shear granite peaks. The team lead succumbed to lacked the confidence to set the direction of the team. Ultimately, she backed down and asked someone else to take the lead up the mountain.

Half way up, two team members refused to go any further. They didn’t feel equipped or had the right experience to move further and thought the expedition became too dangerous. The three remaining team members lightened their load and continued up the mountain with little food and water. Acknowledging to the remaining team that if they don’t return after two days, to head back down the mountain.  

Ultimately, while the three remaining team members made it further, it would be too far to summit and make it back down safely. One team member was starting to battle frost bite.

What’s the lesson in all this?

1.       Speak up. Even if you’re not the leader, your ability to influence the team is huge. It’s called leading without authority. Where, when, and how can you show case the benefits and risks.

2.       Practice as a team. While this elite team had an impressive skill set, they did not climb together beforehand to see how decisions would be handled and made or even how each team member fit into the team overall. Do you take the time to identify how you will make decisions ahead of time? 

3.       Commitment. What is each other’s level of commitment to the success of the mission? What factors come into play to decide when to turn around or stop?

How and when you make decisions as a team is critical to its success.  As a leader, are you taking into consideration the team’s thoughts and ideas

Wishing you an abundant, joyful and prosperous day!

Lora Polowczuk
Chief Energy Officer
© Priority Retreats International