Monthly Archives: July 2012

Reflections from Mt. Kilimanjaro

Sunrise on Kilimanjaro
Sunrise on Kilimanjaro







Having just returned from a successful summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro, I wanted to reflect on a couple of the things that I learned during my trip.

The first is…

“Pole Pole”.  (Pronounced Polay Polay)  It means “slowly slowly” in Swahili.

This was the first directive that our guide gave us as we began our 6-day trek up the mountain.  He constantly reminded us of this very important strategy prior to each stage of the climb and several times throughout each day.

What I learned about this method of climbing was that by taking smaller steps both vertically and horizontally on the climb, I was stronger and much more efficient by the end of the day.  I felt great regardless of the terrain or length of hike.  It also gave my body time to adjust to the ever-increasing altitude.  I also learned that by adhering to this pace over time, we would overtake many of the other groups that were initially walking much faster than our group.

When I think about it…everything that has lasting value in my life has been made by taking the very same small steps consistently over time.  Good relationships are made by making small (seemingly insignificant) gestures consistently over time.  Financial stability is also made by making the same small deposits consistently over time.

Big change does not happen overnight…it happens over time.

The other thing that I learned was this…

“All I really need to know is what my next step is.”

This was played out each evening when our guide would enter our tent after dinner and brief us on the next day.  He would tell us what time we would wake up, eat and what to pack for the day.  That was it.  If we were to ask him how long we would hike or what time we would arrive at our camp or any other details about the day…he would just smile and repeat back to us…the time we should wake up, eat and what to pack.

This “unknowing” just about drove many people in our group insane!  They kept asking the same questions each day about what the details of the day would look like and each question would be returned with the same smiling response…

Why do we feel like we need to know all the details at the beginning of everything we do?

Why can’t we just use the information we need and then experience the remaining events?

What I learned about NOT having all this information was that I was less stressed throughout the day.  I KNEW what I needed to know and then I was allowed to experience the rest of the day in a fresh perspective.  I wasn’t judging my experience against what I THOUGH it would or should be.  Every experience was fresh, new and vibrant.  Very cool!

So what if I tried to live my life this way…

Pole Pole


only deciding on what my next step is going to be

Just by my initial thought…I think I would be much more effective, less stressed, happier and ultimately more successful.  It certainly is not the “norm” as accepted by the typical “American culture”…but I’m not so sure I need to know if it will work or not…I just need to begin doing it!

Looks like I’m already learning!

Pole Pole!