Special Feature: 6 Lessons about Success I Learned from Climbing Mount Pulag

6 Lessons about Success I Learned from Climbing Mount Pulag
By Ruben Jay Alvarez
Photos: Ruben Jay Alvarez
Photo credits: Mountain Forecast, Flickr, Rappler
(originally published at http://thesaltedlife.wordpress.com)

Last February of 2015, along with my two other friends, I have experienced a life-changing event that I can remember for the rest of my stay here on earth. This is to climb for the first time a mountain and we never had any idea that the mountain we are about to ascend is holding the title of the highest peak of Luzon and second in the entire country of the Philippines.

Located in the province of Benguet, we traveled more or less 6 hours from Manila to reach the base point of the mountain. The weather is fine and the people are very welcoming. After a few registration and environmental orientation, we started to hike the mountain. As we go higher, I can feel the exhaustion due to the pulling gravity and the weight of my bag. Oxygen is becoming thinner and I need to adjust my breathing pattern with the availability of the air.

The ascending process is typically very similar with what exists in my world. I believe that the hiking experience taught me some lessons how to be successful in the profession I have chosen.

Plan Ahead and Be Prepared.
Again, being a first time climber trying to defy the height of the second highest peak of the Philippines, I need to plan my activity. I need to prepare not just the stuffs that I need to bring but also my physical and psychological body. I have to make sure that I am in good health condition and I am determined to finish the climb and have the willingness to go down, otherwise I will die on top. Like checking if I am fit to do physical activity, checking myself if I am ready to succeed is one of the most important things I need to consider in order to move. As you write the things that you will bring on top of the mountain, learn also how to write the things that you want to achieve in life – stable career, personal space, family, finances, etc. After I decided to pursue this first mountain trek, I have studied the anatomy of the mountain, the possible injuries that may happen to me, the weather, the adjustments that I need to do, and everything. I did this because I want to be successful in climbing Mount Pulag. And if you want to succeed in life, you have to study the science of success. Read books, listen to podcasts, watch videos, and be inspired by great leaders such as Jesus Christ, Mandela among others.

I believe that my current role in the corporate world is just a stepping stone towards a higher purpose. I believe that whatever I am doing right now is just the initial execution of the plans I have implemented that serve as the preparation for the future. As a young professional struggling for my real purpose in life, I keep on scrambling all the available possibilities served in front of me, to what is really for me and what can be the best for me. I was reminded of the Proverbs 19:21, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” This is very true to the point that I am overflowing with dreams and goals and wants but until now I don’t know what the will of God for me is. Whatever it is, I am faithfully prepared to embrace it and will just show obedience to God.
Nobody has promised an easy way towards success, even from the planning stage, doubts, worries, and fears may arise in pursuing your goals, it is normal. However, it is very important that your eyes are set to the finish line, which is your dream.

Honor and respect your surroundings.
Along the way to the top, I keep on staying in the moment to savor the precious sceneries sitting right in front of my very beautiful orbs – the trees, the vast lands, the clouds, the grasses. Everything. I feel grateful in witnessing the magnificent creation of The Lord. In a world where competition is tough and success is the ultimate price, it’s very important to pay respect to your environment. People who climb mountains often take a moment of silence and pause from trekking to honor the existence of nature in every step. They acknowledge that in the varieties of plants and landscapes, there is beauty. Not all greens are grasses, or trees. Sometimes these are shrubs and bushes. What do I mean by this? Differences exist.
In every step you take to reach the top, pay attention to the people you are working with. We have to acknowledge and pay respect to these differences in culture, behavior, race, age, gender, religion, etc. These differences make an individual unique and we have to recognize that. Respect the way you want others to respect you. Respect others not because they are higher than you or they are your boss or they own the company – but because you just know how to respect other individuals. Recognize the smiles every time people greet you along the hallway. Enjoy the laughter that you share during coffee breaks. These people, in their own little ways, will be part of your success. Honor that.

Always go with a team.
Mattie Stepanek said that “Unity is strength… When there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.” This is very true to the realm of success. Before we even started climbing, my group and I immediately mingled and bonded with the other group to share stories and joke around. Little did we know, we are halfway through the summit. It only means that if you’re with someone, work becomes easier. You have someone to share your exhaustion and frustration. The bible even says that “Two are better than one…” (Ecc 4:9 ESV). If someone wants to succeed, he or she should consider the presence of the people surrounding him – his team. His team would help him make every task easier. His team will be one to pick him up once he falls. His team will also be the one to push him if he feels hopeless. See, no man has achieved success all by himself. Someone behind the stage is responsible for his success, or at least one aspect of it.
While individualism has some valid reasons, it is undeniably true that team work makes the environment a little more productive and interactive. It also plays a significant role in achieving the common goal set for the team.

Celebrate the scenery.
I love connecting with the nature. I can feel that there is a natural energy being passed to me every time I breathe the fresh air of the forest. When I climbed Mount Pulag, I really enjoyed the existence of the grasses, the trees, the bushes, and even the small flowers along the way. I felt that I am in a fantasy land. In a situation in which success matters, it is vital to celebrate the sceneries along the way, like the grasses that your feet can touch. Celebrate the mishaps and the flaws that you encounter while doing a task. Celebrate the victory and the triumph for accomplishing even the in the smallest way. Celebrate the effort of your team to reach a common goal. Celebrate the laughter and the cheers and the tears of joy and all the emotions that you can come across while climbing the ladder of success. These are some of the most important chapters of a book you are writing. Enjoy the lights and feel the stage as you perform your way to the top. Enjoy and celebrate – everything is worth it.


Don’t die.
Apprehension visited me night before my big day (the climb). And I told myself that if I die while I’m on my way up, then so be it – maybe that’s my fate. But the time I have moved my first step, I decided that I need to live until I returned to the camping base. This means that I needed to survive whatever challenge or trial that is ahead of me. I don’t need to die. I found the reason to live, or pursue, because of the people who are pursuing the same thing – to reach the summit. Because of the tremendous beauty of the fields that are visible from the top. Because of the clouds that are within reach. Because of the sunlight that is caressing my skin.
One will succeed if he decides to succeed, if he chooses not to give up and surrender. I have heard and read several stories about people who have succeeded after several rejections and failures – Steve Jobs, Einstein, Lamborghini, and Honda are just some of the many names who chose to live and not die. Therefore, remember this, don’t die.

Remember where you came from.
Wherever you are going, never forget where you came from, that you have started from the basement and made yourself to the top. Do not stay in a place where you think success is sitting. Always remember that success is a not a destination but rather a journey. Success is a continuous journey and you will different people along the way. Share your success and help them realize their goals. Be an influence for the good. Remember how other people, your team work, your leader, your family, or whoever, have helped you to reach your success. Try to look back at the memories when you were just starting your journey. Share this story to other people and be an inspiration. You can be proud of your success; you’ve earned it but don’t allow your success to feed your ego. Don’t raise your own self and always consider that there is someone out there who is better than you. “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted”, says the bible. Allow the gravity to help you step on the ground. As I will say, success is truly measured by happiness and satisfaction.


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