by: Trajce Dimkov, Senior Manager, Risk Advisory, Deloitte, Middle East
We all like challenges. Challenges are one of the main reasons why we are with Deloitte: Always new exciting projects and always unexpected events along the way.
Challenges are not always comfortable (actually, often they are not). However, only with living at the edge of comfort we learn and grow. So, when I was brainstorming my next holiday, Kilimanjaro seemed as a great opportunity to push myself further.
Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa with 5895m above sea level; the upper parts are constantly frozen and the top is surrounded by permanent glaciers. The temperature is always below freezing and reaches -20 degrees at night. There is very little oxygen at that altitude.
Most people do not reach the top either because their body cannot handle the physical strain of climbing for multiple days or because they suffer from altitude sickness (they cannot adjust to the lack of oxygen). In some cases they are so oxygen deprived they need to be carried down in special stretches and then to the hospital.
The people we met along the route
At first, it seemed Kilimanjaro attracts all kind of people. We met people aged from 11 to 70 years old, from all nationalities and races, male and female. However, as we started talking with the other climbers, we started to see commonalities: All of them were adventurers. They were spending their free time to explore the world, to try to learn new things and to push their limits. What also surprised me was that most of the climbers were from investment banking, consulting, financial planning and property management.
When the plane was landing, we saw Kilimanjaro for the first time from a close distance and we were mesmerized. It lay on top of the clouds, desolate and cold. It seemed unreachable. On summit day this proved to be correct. We had no sleep as we needed to start our climbing before midnight. It was an 8 hours uphill climb with very short breaks at extremely low temperatures. Within an hour all our water froze. Most of the electronics stopped working. Many times we wanted to quit. During the climb, we saw a lot of people quit.
However, we were prepared for the summit. The rules we followed were simple: One step at a time. Keep your breathing steady. Follow the leader. Continue moving no matter how tired you are. Focus on only the hill you are climbing, not the one that follows. We also planned well in advance. We chose a capable company, got high quality equipment, and trained hard before we took off. The last part of the climb, although physically challenging, was mostly a mental challenge. It would have been so easy to just stop and go back. But it was that much harder to make the next step.
Was it worth it?
Looking back, this was a once in a lifetime experience. An absolute part of everyone’s bucket list. Although there was hardship and required a lot of effort, the rewards were indescribable. Some of the things that will stay with us
- The feeling when you are at the highest point of Africa.
- The confidence you get in your physical and mental endurance.
- The views you get above the clouds.
- The African culture experience.
- The other adventurers we met throughout the journey.
How is this related to Deloitte?
First, Deloitte attracts a specific character of professionals. The ones that are willing to accept the challenge that comes with every new project, to build experience by being at different clients, professionals that want to explore. Also, Deloitte embeds the right skillsets to its professionals. From Deloitte we learn about working as a team, perseverance in difficult situations, stamina to push on the long runs and good analytical knowledge to plan in advance.
As a thank you to Deloitte, we took the organization’s flag with us and waved it at the top of Africa. And an advice to the rest of our colleagues:
- Keep exploring.
- Be proud but never satisfied by your achievements. Keep pushing further.
- Talent wins games, teamwork wins championships.
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