On 10th-11th May 1996, tragedy struck on Mount Everest. In one storm, 8 climbers perished.
It was a very busy day on the mountain (34 climbers), unplanned delays (fixed ropes not in place on the Hilary Step) and bad weather came in - a harsh storm.
This cocktail of circumstances became a fatal fiasco when some climbers stuck to simple goals ("I will summit") when the shifting circumstances would otherwise suggest that they should have abandoned and retreated.
"Summit fever" is an extreme example of sticking to goals no matter what.
I was reminded of Everest 1996 when I read "The Antidote, Happiness For People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking" by Oliver Burkeman.
In one chapter Burkeman discusses goals. He cites Christopher Hayes, a Professor of Organizatisonal Behaviour at George Washington University and author of "Destructive Goal Pursuit: The Mt. Everest Disaster".
Lessons learned on the mountain also teach us about entrepreneurship.
This passage stood out and I thought it worth sharing...
The most valuable skill of a successful entrepreneur, Chris Kayes is convinced, isn’t ‘vision’ or ‘passion’ or a steadfast insistence on destroying every barrier between yourself and some prize you’re obsessed with. Rather, it’s the ability to adopt an unconventional approach to learning: an improvisational flexibility not merely about which route to take towards some predetermined objective, but also a willingness to change the destination itself. This is a flexibility that might be squelched by rigid focus on any one goal
I read and re-read this paragraph several times over.
Vision is great, ambition and drive are useful but there is a character trait which is also needed to lead to success; adaptability and resourcefulness.
Succesful entrepreneurs will pursue audacious goals but they will quickly change direction if they find their path is blocked.
It's less about thinking, "I am going to do X, here's how I am going to do it". It's more a case of, "based on what I now know and the resources I can get my hands on, which is next best step I can make". This pragmatism will find opportunity and solutions that the rest of us just don't see.