Rising Above Ourselves

I was inspired again by my mentor this week as he offered a quote by Sir Edmund Hilliary who said “It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.”

I end a three year ministry this week wherein I had the opportunity to be a mentor/guide/counselor to about 300 young adults between ages 19-31.  For Ginger and I, this has been an opportunity of a life time.  To be with the “kids” who will shape the tomorrows of the world is enlivening and empowering!  Often in my counseling with them, the thing that had to be overcome to progress and move forward was themselves.  Isn’t that true with all of us?

Recently I gave a keynote address to an industry conference.  We (my admins and I) put many hours over several months into this presentation.  I believe it was well received, but my focus to gage this was based on the immediate response, not how the principles taught might have a lasting impact on members of the audience.  In other words, I was focusing the results on how I did, rather than how the audience would eventually, perhaps, inculcate the teachings.


My observation is this: while we want to be well received, liked, perhaps even admired, it’s not about US.  It’s about how we change the world for the better by the way we live.  What is it that we conquer that enables the best results?  I would list the following:

  1.  Selfishness
  2. Addictions
  3. Habits and Values

I had a young lady confide that she felt left out in social gatherings, that she seemed invisible at times.  I said “Join the club—we have special powers, those of us who can stand in a group and be invisible.”  But then I explained that I have always found that when I reach out to others the results are always positive, even though it may not seem reciprocal.  Selfishness is when we are more concerned about ourselves than others.

Addictions are a bi-product of several things, including idle time, poor choices of friends, and succumbing to self-gratification rather than rising above our own interests for the good of others and the world we live in.  It is akin to selfishness.  Breaking the strangling tentacles of addiction requires changing habits and often time values.

When we decide to “Conquer” ourselves, we typically will ourselves to adopt higher standards or values for living.  This requires a change of heart and behavior, not just a cease and desist order from the brain.  These behaviors are effectively changed when we discover that no one succeeds alone.  We adopt mentors, we confide in friends or counselors or even programs, to gain the higher ground, one step at a time.

In our journey, let’s remember the words of Sir Edmund Hilliary who said “It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.”

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