August 5, 2011

The Secret of Strength

Several years ago I traveled with a friend to Kenya.  We had two goals: 

  • Climb Mt.Kenya.
  • Discover how we could help Pastors in Kenya.

It’s along trip to Africa from Oregon.  After what seemed a life time of travel we arrived in Nyrobi only to discover our expedition gear was left in London because the British decided they needed to shed some weight for the long flight to Africa. We stayed in the capital city for two extra days while our gear caught up to us.  

Little did we know that the extra days would play a critical role in us conquering the Summit.  The loss of two days meant less time to acclimatize – leaving us vulnerable to altitude sickness. Something you don’t want to experience – believe me!  It hurts!  What I experienced starting at 14,000 was something I hope never to repeat.     

Pulmonary endema or altitude sickness starts as a splitting headache that moves to flu like symptoms with increasing disorientation. A dangerous combination when your trying to summit a peak.  It was like I hit an invisible wall and we still had over 2,800 feet to climb as well as navigate a glacier.  

That night as we went on our acclimatization hike and climbed higher the symptoms increased. My friend David and I had a talk that night with our guide.  Should I turn around and head back down – which is what is recommended to do to relieve the symptoms of endema or employ a different tactic? I didn’t invest a great deal of money, training and time to turn-back – so the guide prescribed a plan:

  1. Get more oxygen to the brain. It’s usually the lack of oxygen at high altitudes that cause altitude sickness.  Since we did not have an oxygen bottle laying around we increased the fluids in my body so it could carry and process more oxygen.  This helped!  
  2. Get allot of rest.  I jumped in my bag and did my best to sleep before we headed for the summit at 1:30am. 
  3. Go slowly and check your footing. This would prove to be extremely difficult for me.  I want to go hard and hit the summit in record time.  Not this trip.

We added one more step – pray!  My good friend David prayed and prayed for me that night and all the way to the summit.  In the morning we hit the summit and I felt great. A miracle really.  

So what is the secret to strength – intentional action!  If I had not followed the guides plan and prayed do you think I would have reached the summit. Never! Strength in our life and leadership requires that we be intentional to build it and utilize it.  Without intentional action we fall prey to the tyranny of the urgent – who always leads us to places of weariness and weakness.  

This month we will discuss the best practices to build and utilize greater spiritual, emotional, relational and physical strength.  We will explore excellent best practices in these four critical areas of our life.  We will be stronger only if we build upon the foundation of strength: intentional action.

So here’s a few intentional action steps to consider:

  1. Get some air – engage in an activity each day this week that helps you clear your mind and be replenished.
  2. Get some resttake some power-naps this week and ensure your daily sleep is adequate.
  3. Slow your pace – slow down and plan more intentional actions in your day. Your achievement and strength will increase dramatically.

To your excellence,

Coach Greg