“A mountain does not become less steep just because I whine and complain. What I can change is my attitude towards the angel” – Fredrik Sträng.
Fredrik Sträng is a guy who was bullied, notoriously afraid of heights and who went to therapy for his fear of death to become Sweden’s foremost high-altitude climber with, among other things, seven peaks above 8000 m and a Guinness World Record in the bag. After climbs on life and death, where Mount Everest was one of the mountains he vanquished, he knows that his attitude determines whether he succeeds or fails, whether he survives or not. Fear is a construct; danger is real. When we see the difference, a world of possibilities opens up.
Ask yourself: Do you want to climb “Mount Everest”, or do you want to have it climbed?
Fredrik’s quest to reach the top has striking similarities with the driving forces, strategies and risk analyses we face at work and in everyday life. What does it take to succeed with your “Mount Everest”? Most people think wrong. They wonder how they will find the motivation to last a little longer. Fredrik Sträng thinks: how much do I want to reach my goal on a scale from 1-10?
“Many people ask me how I succeed in what I do. I usually say, my thoughts, words and actions must bring me closer to my goal, or I am doing something wrong.”
In 2008, Fredrik Sträng undertook the almost impossible challenge, K2 – the world’s most formidable mountain. It was a tragic year. Eleven people died. Fredrik’s team managed and focused on the rescue work instead of climbing towards the top. Fredrik talks about “summit fever”, a phenomenon that is recognised in climbing and the business world, where the goal becomes personal despite clear warning signals. In climbing, the consequence can be sudden death. In business, it can be about the company’s survival.
Fredrik talks about the importance of making the right decision under extreme pressure and stress.
Successful teams in the mountains have a well-defined goal, clear roles and an open communication climate, for the team is never stronger than the weakest link.
A clear example of job satisfaction is Pemba Sherpa, whom Fredrik Sträng met in 2006 on Mount Everest.
Fredrik: “He had a task 8 hours a day for two months on the mountain, and it was to melt snow and cover the expedition’s liquid needs. Every day, he trotted out songs and seemed to love his job. I asked Pemba “how come you’re always so positive when you’re melting all the ice and snow?”. Pemba replied I have the most important job. What is it, I asked. Pemba replied, without water, everyone will die! Pemba understood that he would never stand on top of Mount Everest in his role on the mountain, but the expedition would not get far without him. Loving one’s task and its benefit is one of the most important factors contributing to a successful expedition as a successful company.”
With Fredrik Sträng’s lecture, the audience gets to form small groups on a couple of occasions to discuss what they would do in extremely stressful situations. Afterward, we analyse the different choices and potential consequences. Finally, Fredrik talks about his experiences and how his team did to succeed.