It matters who’s on the mountain with you

While vacationing in North Carolina, my husband and I are enjoying the luxury of time for early morning walks. Or more accurately, early morning hikes. The terrain surrounding the cabin we’ve rented comes in three grades – steep, steeper, and steepest. No leisurely strolls in this neighborhood. Whatever direction we head,  it’s a full-scale cardiac workout.

Which likely explains why a trail up the side of a nearby mountain didn’t seem an odd choice. Never mind that anything more than a 2 degree incline has us huffing and puffing. Randy and I set our sights on reaching the peak in our first week of vacation, which seemed realistic — until we started the climb.

Most mornings, I was ready to call it quits. To look for an easier route. But Randy urged me on, hinting that the top of the mountain might be just around the bend. I can’t say the climb was fun, but the views were breathtaking. And when we finally reached the end of the road, it was great to share the sense of accomplishment with my husband.


As I wheezed and whined my way up the mountain, I thought about fundraisers in one or two-person development offices. Worn out and breathless from the mad rush to June 30, they’re beginning all over again, facing into another 12-month climb to the top.

Regardless the number of trips up the hill, the climb doesn’t feel any easier or less lonely.

If this describes you, here’s hoping FY13 brings a hiking companion willing to go the distance with you. Someone who’ll be there with an encouraging word when things get tough.  Someone with whom you can share the small triumphs of everyday generosity, as well as the big win at the end of the climb.

It could be your organization’s CEO. Or a board member who understands what it takes to do fundraising right. Maybe it’ll be a volunteer whose enthusiasm is contagious. The important thing is that you have someone along for the journey.

As Jim Collins and Morton Hansen remind in Great by Choice, at the end of the day, “it’s not about your strategy as you climb the mountain, it’s who you have climbing with you.”

That’s been my experience, and I bet it’ll be yours as well. Think about it.

What's your take on this topic?

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