Life Lessons from Mountaineering

Alejandro Orendain, MBA Class of 2021 reflects on a mountain climbing adventure to share some important reminders on how to think positively during difficult situations.

When I decided to pursue an MBA at IESE Business School, I did it for two main reasons: to discover new facets of business and to become a better version of myself.

Since I’ve started this MBA journey, I already had to deal with several new challenges. Every time I overcame the challenge and learnt something from it, and I cannot stop thinking that it’s a great time to be alive.

The current pandemic situation we are facing on a global scale, has made us realize how fragile we are. A lot of people are suffering and the people working in hospitals and people working in the primary needs industries are pushing their limits. We, the lucky ones, can spend this time in a quarantine lockdown, just allowed to go outside for basic requirements. I am not saying we’re having an easy time, but we are certainly not dealing with the same pressure as those brave people out there.

In 2016, I faced a rather different adventure but with important similarities to our current situation. That year, together with an exceptional group of people that I am lucky to call my friends, we climbed the tallest mountain in North America: Mount Denali (McKinley) in Alaska.

Facing adverse weather, uncertainty, tiredness and being trapped in a small tent for days, taught me several lessons that are now very relevant to pass this quarantine time in a positive way:

1.  Be present – live each day like it could be the last one because it may be. This mindset helped me to enjoy myself up there whatever our situation was. So, whatever you are doing, do it with all your heart and mind on it. Whether it is making a good cup of coffee in the morning, getting your exercise routine of the day or talking with your loved ones;

2.  The only thing you can control is your mind – As Emerson said, “You are what you think all day long”. When you are stuck in a tent during a storm and don’t know when it will pass, it’s easy to serial into dark thoughts. By staying positive and keeping a good sense of humor, you make sure everyone is present in the moment and in good spirit. Make sure to fill your mind with positive thoughts, since it’s easier than it sounds: focus on what makes you happy and at peace;

3.  Gratitude – I still remember the gratitude I felt coming down the mountain after 18 days and be able to get a proper hot shower. There are so many “normal” things we take for granted that we don’t realize how much we should be thankful for them. Look around you, what are the small things you might be taking for granted?

Let us use this time to become fully present in this special moment, to become a better version of ourselves, and to have more empathy with others. Let us especially be grateful for all the wonderful things we still have. I don’t know when this weary time will be over, but I am certain that we will come out of it more united and as better persons than before.

I hope all of you are safe and well in these uncertain times and remember that there is always something to smile about it. “What a great time to be alive”, my friends.

*Here is a link to a video we made from our expedition trip to Mount Denali back in 2016.

[This article is re-posted from Linkedin]


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Alejandro Orendain Lopez View more

MBA Class of 2021


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