By Michael Holland –

The Adirondack Mountains in Upstate NY provide a beautiful opportunity for hiking. There are 46 mountains that are higher than 4,000 feet. I’ve spent some time climbing a few of the “46ers” and one challenge appears often: the false summit.

After a few hours of hiking you come to a spot where you’re sure you are coming up to the summit. Exhaustion begins to wane and a new-found energy is found. There’s an excitement of reaching the climax of the hike.

Then the huge let down as you realize you are not at the top but merely at a false summit.

Do you ever feel that way at work?

Your boss is pushing and pushing to get the blah, blah project completed on time and you’re working hard to reach that finish line. And just as you get there, suddenly, you are thrown into confusion as your boss informs you of an even bigger project that is starting up right away.

The brief relishing of success is flooded with an overwhelming feeling of dread.

  • Maybe it’s the acquisition that is just completing while a new, larger acquisition comes into view.
  • Maybe it’s the big software implementation that is almost live after a year of work only to find out there’s a big upgrade that must be implemented right away.
  • Maybe it’s the 2 years of working hard on implementing the departing CEO’s strategic plan which now will be thrown out as the newly hired CEO will want to start over with their own plan.

You can’t control most of the false summits that will come your way.

But you can control how you and your team manage the expenditure of your precious health and energy resources to make sure you are moving at a pace that is sustainable over the long haul and over all the false summits that are coming.

And you can plan ahead for your team.  Create a plan now for how you will lead your team through a frustrating false summit.  Think of it as an emergency kit which could include things like:

  • Some preplanned activities or exercise that can help your team’s motivation.
  • Sample communications to help you with a framework to work off of.
  • A couple of clips from movies/shows that could be used as ice breakers at team meetings.
  • Some money to be used to order services or food or a jaunt to the ice cream place around the corner.

Coaching Thoughts – For You and Your Peers

  • What has been a recent false summit for you?
  • As you look back over the last year, were there some false summits that you threw at your team? Would you do anything differently?
  • Grab a peer leader and discuss ideas for your emergency kits and ways to help your teams move past false summits.