“That was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.”

Creation, Health , Stories

Contributed by: Thrive for Good


James Woller, Executive Director, at the Top of Kilimanjaro 2022 – Thrive for Good


Very few times can you say, “That was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.”

This was the case with our team’s summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro last week, raising funds for Thrive for Good.

Half of our team, including our guides, were sick with sinus colds, injuries, and sleep-deprived. When we left at 1 am to begin our final summit to 19,341 ft., I suspect most of us doubted our ability to reach the top successfully.

However, through grit, determination, and perseverance, we fought through the elements and continual feelings of wanting to quit to summit.

It was an honour to be part of Thrives Kilimanjaro’s campaign, raising funds to bring health and nutrition to more communities worldwide. It certainly was a driving force to us overcoming the odds.

Also, it is amazing to be part of Bolton’s Naturals and Natural Calm; both are committed to donating 100% of their profits to fighting world hunger.

Spending six days on the mountain without any connection to the outside world gave me ample time to reflect on my experience and life and leadership in general.

I want to briefly offer a few thoughts and insights that have caused me to reflect.

  1. Who are you allowing to carry your load – When you are under tremendous strain and stress and feel you can’t do it, who are you allowing to help? Do you ask those close to you or colleagues to help carry the load? I couldn’t have accomplished my goal of summiting without someone carrying my backpack. 
  2. Why is your load so heavy in the first place – often, we accept the stress of our jobs and roles and believe it’s excepted to carry a load that is too heavy. Why is your load so heavy in the first place? Have you taken the time to review what you are carrying and if it is necessary? As we summited to the top, backpacks filled with items that weren’t necessary, creating undue weight and strain.
  3. Stick Together – I summited Kilimanjaro 17 years ago… albeit on my own. This time, I was with a team. It is essential to have a team, stick together, and ensure everyone is supported, taken care of, and has the endurance they need. Have you taken the pulse of your team recently? Are you moving your organization forward at a sustainable pace to ensure the strength of your team? Are you sticking together during difficult and stressful times?
  4. Leave room for margins – In Tanzania, they say ”pole-pole” which means ”slow, slow”. The concept is that if you are going to accomplish your goal, you need to take every day, one foot in front of the other, slowly. Essentially you are leaving ”margins” of endurance to ensure your tank is complete for the final push and summit. On a personal front, have you packed your life and work so full you have no margins available? This is a recipe for burnout, which threatens your leadership.

I encourage you to think through these simple but powerful organizational and personal life application concepts. I hope they impact you as much as they did me.

Learn more about the Kilimanjaro climb here: https://thriveforgood.org/kilimanjaro/