Beware the False Summit

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A friend of mine, Shawn Phillips has a great blog “Start Strong Monday” and today’s post was “The Joy of Putting One Foot in Front of the Other” and using mountaineering as a metaphor for life and goals.

I made a comment on the post about false summits and wanted to expand a bit more on in this post.

For those that have not had the joy of mountain climbing it is (for me) the most challenging physically and mentally and most rewarding sports there is.

It takes physical strength, mental strength and sometimes…spiritual strength.  There is no better metaphor for achieving goals then mountaineering.


There you are, up high on a mountain gasping for breath, you’ve been climbing since 2:00 AM.  The view is spectacular and you’re deep in your rhythm.  Then you see it…

The summit! 

You feel a sense of excitement knowing your struggle is almost over.  You’ve been going for hours with a 50 lbs pack.  You’re cold, hungry and probably dehydrated, but you feel oh so good, now that your goal is in view.

You start to think how nice it’s going to be to rest for a few minutes, grab something to eat, enjoy the view and feel the great satisfaction of accomplishing what you set out to do.

As you get closer you’re excitement builds and you might even back off a bit to save some energy for the way down.  You get closer and closer…you start to climb the steepest part…you’re almost there and then you reach the top!

A sinking feeling hits you….it wasn’t the summit after all, it was a false summit and the real summit is still way ahead of you.  Your enthusiasm disappears, your energy sinks and you feel depressed.    You gave it everything you got and you’re still not there.

Now what?

For most of us this happens too often in attempting to reach a goal in life.  You think you’ve given it everything you can and then you reach your “false summit” and give up.

For those that have learned from the false summit, this is expected, you keep your rhythm knowing you’ll not stop or slow down until you have actually “bagged the summit.” 

The other type of “false summit” is when you really do see the end…your goal and you slow down to look around, tell others you’re that you’re almost there, or any other number of reasons.  Then out of nowhere you get hit by something and never make it.

Ever watch a football player heading for the End Zone slow down and look behind them?  When out of nowhere a defense player catches and tackles him short of making a touchdown.  

See there are four types of people.  Those that:

  • Start weak and finish weak – This type really never gets going and complain how cruel life is.
  • Start weak and finish strong – This type tend to take a very, very long time in achieving their goals and often wonder “why.”
  • Start strong and finish weak – This type gets distracted by other goals and opportunities and really never finishes any of them.
  • Start strong and finishes stronger – This type gets their goal and more.  They blast through the finish line with so much momentum they keep going onto another goal and then another goal…you get the picture right? 

So, let me ask you…which type are you?

Are you going to surrender to the false summit…or are you going blast through the finish line on to more goals?

This is a decision and choice only you can make. 

If you find yourself wanting to be in the “start strong and finishes stronger” and don’t know how, hire a coach a mentor…someone that can help you see and dissolve your limiting thoughts and beliefs.

Believe me it will be worth it….the view is great from the top and there’s plenty of room!

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