The Mountain & The Sherpa


A good friend of mine loves mountaineering – it borders on obsession though. Every year he chooses a mountain somewhere in the world to climb.
He is about to go off to New Zealand to climb one of the peaks there. <Lucky bastard indeed>
We spoke about Everest that he has been preparing to climb next year. He animatedly talked about Tsogba Dorje, the Sherpa who has been taking him to Basecamp last few years to help him ‘take on’ Everest. Just like the many other sherpas, Tsogba has climbed Everest many times before and is aware of the intricacies of the climb, down to each pebble on the trek.
I really took to this Tsogba character. He apparently assesses my friend’s fitness as well as techniques and then explain to him what he needs to work on to be able to get to the top of the climb. Tsogba actually goes climbing with him !

I couldn’t help relating Tsogba to someone I had coffee with recently. We were talking about how it is important to keep defining career goals. You read that right. I said “keep defining”.
He argued with me that in our professional journey we are always setting goals – “I want to become a product marketing manager”. Once you do become one, you set the next goal – “I want to become a portfolio marketing manager” , and then on to “I want to become the Head of Marketing”. Once you hit the big goal, some of us always have this nagging feeling of “What next”.
I blurted out – “Yes, what’s the next mountain to climb now that I’ve climbed this one!!”. I went on to tell him about Tsogba the Great.
“Exactly” he said. “It is important to identify the next ‘mountain’ and figure out how you need to prepare yourself to climb it. Probably the terrain, elevation, difficulty – maybe everything is different from the last mountain you climbed. Where or who is the Tsogba who will help you understand your fitness level for this new climb? These career transitions are difficult and we need our Tsogba with us in the climb”.
Starry eyed, I just kept on nodding.

I kept thinking about it over the weekend and was really moved by what he said. The philosophical part of me looked around at many people who I know are climbing mountains of their own. Some are lucky to find good mentors who help them understand the mountain and more importantly, understand themselves better. They tell you the tough bends, the places you will slip – and what gear you need for the climb. They help fill the gaps to make sure you get to the top.

I reflected on my own career and about the many Tsogbas I’ve unknowingly had on my own climbs. I’d say I am lucky to interact with people who are looking to either get to a basecamp or climb a mountain. I’ve started telling them how important it is to find their Tsogba.
I’ve also got my own new Mountain(Zion!) to climb and a group of Jedi Sherpa’s I’m putting together for the climb (haven’t found Yoda yet though. I am sure he will say ‘Climb. Or Climb not. There is no try.’).

Now for the fitness regime.

So, What’s your next Mountain and who is your Sherpa ?


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