Lessons from Climbing Kilimanjaro

28 Sep 23 | Jonathan Stanger

Our Director, Co-founder and inspirational speaker, Jonathan Stanger, has recently finished a 7 day expedition climbing Mount Kilimanjaro! In this blog, Jonathan discusses how his trip provided him with new insights on perspective, hard work, attitude and comfort zones.

 

After just finishing an epic 7 day trip to Tanzania to climb Kilimanjaro I’m reflecting on what it’s taught me. I thought I’d be writing this reflecting on the intensity of the challenge, the long walks, the push to the summit, all whilst suffering the effects of altitude sickness and sleep deprivation. However I’ve taken away so much more from this trip.

The impact this trip has on the lives of the local team that have supported us is massive, and the effect they have had on me is equally impactful. It’s their spirit and attitude that has blown me away and impacted me far more than any personal triumph of climbing the great mountain. They are so appreciative of us visiting their country and creating jobs for their people, whilst helping their children to get an education. It’s so humbling.

Here are my brief key takeaways. I hope they resonate with you;

Perspective
A trip like this has given me great perspective. A trip into the local town of Moshi, close to Kilimanjaro, illustrated how the local people live. They have very few luxuries. They live within their means and share their wealth within their community. The porters and team that accompanied us up the mountain, amounted to approximately 3 people to every one individual. At first I felt a little embarrassed with this, but they made it absolutely clear that we were giving them employment and again were so grateful. I was blown away by this level of authentic care for the enjoyment and safety of each guest. They truly went the extra mile in everything they did and really enjoyed it in the process.

Hard Work
The Porters i.e. the people carrying our luggage and equipment i.e. food, tents etc, showed an unbelievable work ethic. No sooner had we packed our equipment for the day ahead, when they proceeded to dissemble the tents, pack them and then head off to the next camp carrying equipment on their head, their backs and under their arms. They then raced up the mountain to our next camp and had everything set up well before we arrived. It was astonishing. Their appetite for hard work was admirable and it’s a value that I hugely respect.

Attitude
The team that looked after us from the leader of the group to the two people that looked after the toilet facilities were amazing. A positive attitude along with a smile was core to everything they did. This was illustrated perfectly on the night of our final ascent. The leader of our group delivered a rousing speech focusing on the fact that a positive mindset would be crucial to our chances of success. He was right! I personally went to some dark places on that climb but the constant corralling by each member of our climbing team motivated us and kept us focussed. This support was truly unquantifiable, but it reiterated to me how important it is to have a positive mindset in everything you do.

Comfort Zone
I’ve always been a big advocate of stepping outside your comfort zone, but this trip to Kilimanjaro was well outside mine! I came into the challenge being a little apprehensive and possibly a little under prepared after suffering a month long injury just two months prior to the climb. However the guides advocated a “Pole Pole” approach to the climb and ultimately giving you a stronger chance of success. Essentially this means “Slowly Slowly” and by doing this you have a better chance of acclimatising to the altitude. This meant I literally took one small step at a time, and by doing this the challenge and moving outside of my comfort zone didn’t seem quite as daunting. Lots of lessons to be gleaned from this.

Things aren’t as daunting as they seem
Linking into the above point, on day 3 of our trip we climbed the Baranca Wall. On first seeing the wall it seemed impossible to climb. However once the guides directed us to take the most appropriate route, it was a relatively comfortable climb. This reminded me to pause and reflect before coming to irrational conclusions once a challenge presents itself. Very simple but very effective.

 

To find out more about Jonathan, click here.

Jonathan Stanger

Jonathan Stanger

Speaker

Co-Founder of Raise the Bar Ltd and Advisory Board Member of CALM, Jonathan Stanger focuses on change, reacting positively to s...