The top has been reached. What’s next?

by Anna Zubitskaya

“After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb”.  Nelson Mandela

We aspire to be happy, successful, free, accomplished, famous, loved, etc. in our lives. Many of us set ambitious individual, professional or career goals to make our aspirations come true. Large part of these many pursue their path to desired top with persistence, passion to win and commitment.

This post was inspired by my Wayna Picchu climb – an adventure I had been dreaming about, which I carried through about one month ago. In travel guides and travellers’ reviews, I read that the climb was worth the extra effort due to the amazing bird-eye view from the top of the mountain on Machu Picchu cimage1itadel and surrounding landscape.

Summiting Wayna Picchu was my big challenging objective of the whole Peruvian adventure trip. My will and commitment remained strong as I was relentlessly surmounting the mountain meter by meter, using some times both my hands and feet to scramble upwards along the most steep parts of the climbing path.

After 40-minutes ascent, tired, but happy and proud of myself, I reached to the peak of Wayna Picchu. I enjoyed my time at the top of the mountain admiring the breathtaking views, exploring the ruins of Inca buildings and taking numerous pictures. The top, my ambitious goal for that day, was reached.

After big dreams come to life, high-reaching goals of whatever great undertaking achieved and once the victory is properly celebrated (“Yes, I have reached this summit!!!”), the question “What’s next?” will definitely appear in the agenda of a successful climber.

Colonise the conquered peak of “the mountain of success” – it’s the dumbest answer to this question. Unfortunately, some people do it in their lives – by settling in and hoping to cling to their achievement for as long as possible, by giving up further development and learning, by resting on laurels and becoming complacent. It’s impossible to dwell on the top of the mountain for a long time. And there is no sense in doing it. There are more mountains with their summits glittering high above the rest of skyline, inviting ambitious alpinists. New peaks, invincible in the past, wait to be taken!

Though, unless we are able to glide from the top reached today straight to the head of a new hill or to parachute to a nice plateau nearby, each time ascent on a new mountain implies trip down from the previous one. “You climb to reach the summit, but once there, discover that all roads lead down” – these words of Stanislaw Lem, visionary Polish writer and philosopher, the author of “Solaris” novel, are so true.

image2So, what’s next? For me the descent downhill from Wayna Picchu peak was next. Starting my journey down from Wayna Picchu peak, I discovered that the way downhill was not easier, but even tougher than the way up. It was the same steep and narrow path, making me crawl down on all fours, when it became too sheer. At the same time, it was crucial for me to maintain the right energy level needed to reach the starting point. I came to the conclusion that my victory over Wayna Picchu peak was not complete until I would make my way back to the foot of the mountain.

Recalling beauty of the scenery that I had adored at the top of Wayna Picchu, I started dreaming about my new summits to be taken. My journey downhill allowed me to crystalize the learning’s of my climb and grow confidence in my capability of reaching higher and tougher peaks in my life in the future.

The notion of summiting “the mountain of success” is often used in the wider context of individual life, achievement and career. I like this metaphor – when attainment individual goal is depicted as a climb up to the top. I believe that the idea of mountain of success should also embrace the descent downhill as a process of reflection, learning and preparation for a climb to new high-reaching peaks. Path downhill is a path, which brings us to the foot of the next mountain to be conquered.

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