Reaching Your Highest Peak

For all you “Hidden Figures” fans out there, let’s take a moment of silence for all the women who have blazed a path for women like me.

I love hearing stories of incredible people, their triumphs, their failures and what has propelled them to get to where they are today. To reach their Highest Peak and highest potential.

This week our company hosted a keynote speaker in San Diego. It’s right up my alley. Listening to a fabulous person, and leaving feeling like you are an unaccomplished human that should probably do something amazing right now.

This woman, Alison Levine, was the team captain for the first American Women’s Expedition to climb Mount Everest. She is one of few in the world to complete a “grand slam,” and we’re not talking about setting world records in eating chocolate. This woman has claimed the Highest Peak on every continent.

While I have zero desire to go through what she did, I can appreciate her journey and struggles along the way.

For starters, climbing Everest is basically climbing to your death. Literally. The peak of Mount Everest is 29,029 feet, the highest point in the world. At the Summit, you die within minutes. Yes, sign me up for that expedition!

She accounts her journey training for this feat, and the two months spent on the mountain conditioning her body to make it to the top.


As she approached the tippy top, not more than 200 feet away, a storm came in. At that elevation, Levine explained for each step it’s necessary to take five to ten breaths just to survive. Again, I’ll just stick to my one hour yoga class.

Unfortunately she did not make it to the top that day. But she explained, “Storms are always temporary.” Making it to the top was optional; making it down the mountain was mandatory.

Upon her return home, her team had many interviews across the county. One man pointed out, “So, you really didn’t climb Mount Everest then if you didn’t make it to the top.”

To which she replied, “I’m sorry, what do you do for a living?” He responded, “I work for J.P. Morgan Chase.”

“Oh, that’s great you’re the CEO of J.P. Morgan Chase!”

“No, no, I’m a VP for the company.”

“Well,” she continued, “If you’re not the CEO, then you really don’t work for J.P Morgan Chase, right?”

…And all the women clapped in the audience. I personally gave her a mental standing O.

We all know people like this. They see the “top” as the end game. If the goal wasn’t met, then surely it was a failure. What we don’t embrace are the lessons learned along the way.

Levine went back eight years later and made a solo hike on that mountain. She knew her stamina, her risk tolerance. Another storm came through at the summit, but this time she pushed ahead with the knowledge from her past experience. She got to the top of the mountain that day, and made it on the cover of ESPN magazine.

I hope that guy from J.P. Morgan Chase had a chance to read that month’s featured article. And if it were me, I would personally sign a copy and mail it to that bastard’s office.

Because backing-up is not the same thing as backing down. #keepclimbing


Published by Katie Jones


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