This year we invited Alison Levine to speak with the attendees of Xyngfling 2021 to share her experience as the Team Captain of the American Women’s Everest Expedition.
We wanted to share a few excerpts from her talk that inspired us and got our wheels turning about how we’ll tackle our goals—both in life and in business.
ON BUILDING A TEAM
I got advice from one of the best college basketball coaches about recruiting a team. First, look for ego. You WANT ego, just the right type of ego. When recruiting a team, there are two types of ego he looks for.
Performance Ego: I want people who are good and KNOW they are good. You can’t have Lebron James on the court acting scared.
Team Ego: You want people who are more proud of the team as a whole than they are proud of themselves.
ON MAKING PROGRESS
The process of climbing Mt Everest is a long process of taking the time to acclimatize your body to the elevation. You have to climb to a certain elevation and back down to basecamp multiple times. It’s tough physically, but psychologically, it’s exhausting. The process of going back down when you’re wanting to go up is emotionally draining.
But you need to be coming back down to eat, sleep, and regain strength for the next day. Even though you’re going backward, you’re still making progress, because going “backward” is part of the process of getting to the top.
Sometimes we tend to think progress is LINEAR. We tend to think that progress has to happen in one particular direction. But sometimes you have to go backward for a bit to eventually get to where you want to be.
Do not look at that backtracking as losing ground. Look at it as an opportunity to regroup, regain some strength so you’re better out of the gates the next time around.
Backing Up is not the same as Backing DOWN.
ON BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS
The first thing I would do when we would get back to base camp was to talk to and get to know all the other teams. People make fun of me for being “social” but it’s not about being social, it’s about creating relationships so if we need help during the expedition, we have relationships with others up there to help us.
When the you-know-what hits the fan, that is not the time to make friends and build relationships.
It’s worth it to spend the time networking. It just might save your life someday.
ON FACING YOUR FEARS
Spending time in an area of the expedition that was extremely dangerous with constantly shifting ice and giant crevasses we had to cross taught me a very important life lesson:
FEAR is okay, but complacency will kill you.
You have to be able to act and react quickly in environments that are constantly shifting and changing and I can’t think of anything that had more constantly shifting environments than the year 2020.
Every single one of you is in a leadership position. Every single one of you—because
leadership is not just about the title, tenure, or how many people report to you, or how big of a budget you oversee.
Leadership is about realizing that every single member of the team has a responsibility to help that team move toward a goal, and everybody has a responsibility to look out for one another.
ON FACING UNCERTAINTY
At one point during Alison’s expedition, the weather took a nasty turn…
I realized we cannot control the environment, we can only control our reaction.
I continued to head up the mountain after a couple of hours, and visibility was horrendous. I realized you don’t have to have absolute clarity about what’s coming down the trail in order to just put one foot in front of the other.
ON HOW TO BE SUCCESSFUL
Nobody gets to the top of the mountain by themselves. Nobody.
Sometimes things are going to go your way, and sometimes they aren’t. That’s part of climbing, life, and business. But you have to be willing to get out there and push yourself day after day, even when it feels uncomfortable. Especially when it feels uncomfortable.
And you’ve got to be able to weather the storms if you ever want to be able to enjoy the view.
You don’t have to be the best, fastest, strongest climber on the mountain, you just need to be RELENTLESS.
Thank you to all of our outstanding Xyngfling 2021 speakers, it was truly an event to remember! You can also read a recap of Xyngular CEO, Russ Fletcher’s closing keynote talk along with recaps from previous events like our favorite moments from XLC 2020.