I was honored to be featured on Liz Sumner’s I Always Wanted To podcast to discuss climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro was a once in a lifetime opportunity for me. It was a unique trip because it wasn’t just about climbing a mountain—it was about doing it for charity.

Along with sixteen strangers, I made the commitment to set aside two weeks of my life to climb Mount Kilimanjaro for the LiveStrong Foundation. I didn’t climb for myself but to honor those who have fought and those who continue to battle cancer.

Climbing a mountain was something I had never done before. I live in Florida, where the only mountain we have was once a garbage dump that has since been turned into a park. So this was a first experience for me.

I trained for six months, because that’s all the time I had to prepare.

There were a lot of lessons I learned in my experience of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Here are just three of them.

Lesson #1

It’s not about how fast you make it to the top—it’s about staying centered and focused on what’s important.

When climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, the most important thing we needed to focus on was our breathing. It was literally a matter of life and death.

Outside of climbing a mountain, this lesson still holds true. It’s not about reaching your destination the fastest or the best, it’s about focusing on those things that are most important.

What are those things that are the most important in your life? Once you determine what they are, stay focused on those things and everything else will fall into place.  

Lesson #2

No matter how much you prepare, there will be things you can’t account for.

I was in the best shape of my life when I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. I prepared by wearing a 20 pound pack and I wore my boots everywhere. My kids laughed every time they saw me walking around Florida in my hiking boots. But I knew I was prepared.

That was until I had to get out of the tent for the first time in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. Living in Florida, nothing can prepare you for the cold you face when you’re camping on the side of a very large mountain. But there was no way around it so I faced the challenge head-on.

This is the same with life. Things are going to happen that you just didn’t expect. The only way to move through it successfully is to face it with a grin and take the challenge head-on.

Lesson #3

Enjoy the Extraordinary Moments

My climb of Kilimanjaro was five days up and two days down. It was an entire week of hard work and new experiences for one indescribable moment. That moment was standing at the top of the mountain and appreciating how far I had come. It was just a moment of profound gratitude and beauty—and then we had to descend for better oxygen.

But I will never forget that extraordinary moment in my otherwise ordinary life.

We need to look for those moments in life and be grateful for how far we’ve come.

Above all, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro taught me that when a challenge comes in front of you, take the challenge. You can do it. You are more than capable of accomplishing anything you set your mind to—and it will change your life.

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro wasn’t something I always wanted to do, but because I did it, I now know I am capable of so much more.

And so are you.

If you would like to learn more about my adventures and the lessons I’ve learned from them, you can find my book The Extraordinary UnOrdinary You on Amazon.

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