11The Sherpa Challenge

It’s always further than it looks. It’s always taller than it looks. And it’s always harder than it looks.

—The three rules of mountaineering

The climb is always hard. The journey always long. In one moment you feel like you are on top of the world and then the headwinds hit you. This is just the way it is. We have never met a significant leader who hasn’t missed a step or fallen down at one point or another. And that’s just climbing on your own—it’s even harder leading others up a mountain.

This quote from Mark Horrell puts the journey into perspective:

For the first 29 years of Everest’s climbing history the death rate was 100%. Then Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary climbed it in 1953 and came back down again. Suddenly the death rate was down to 50%, and it’s been going down ever since.1

For some of you, the building of people while climbing yourself, feels daunting, tiring, and useless. People are just messy, work is hard, and expectations go unmet at times. Leading can feel like dying and to some degree it is. However, the more you experience the more realistic your expectations become.

Here is my (Jeremie’s) story of dying and of starting to become a Sherpa:

It was 2012 and I was done. Since 2007 I had been leading the John Maxwell companies that we had bought and merged into GiANT. We had grown the Catalyst conferences into a national brand and successfully created a brand called Leadercast to become one of the largest leadership events in ...

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