Since I’ve known him, my husband has dreamt of one day standing on the summit of Mont Blanc. This year, he began to prepare to make this dream a reality. He booked with a specialist provider, bought an impressive array of kit, upped his fitness regime to increase his stamina and strength, adapted his diet and generally did everything he could to be ready. He spent the first eight days of his trip on an Alpine training course in Chamonix, learning and practising techniques (anyone for crevasse rescue?), familiarising himself with his kit and getting acclimatised to altitude, climbing over 4200m above sea level for the first time ever. He was ready.
On Sunday, he and his guide made the ascent to the Cosmiques mountain refuge in order to leave for the summit at 2am the following day. As the day progressed, the weather worsened: thunder, lightning, snow. Once the evening weather forecast came through, it became clear that there would be no way of going to the summit on either Monday or Tuesday. His flight home was Wednesday.
The following morning, they made their way over the arête and back to the cable car station, not knowing whether the cable car would actually be running. Thankfully, they met the first one of the day, arriving a couple of hours later than usual, and were safely back in Chamonix later that morning.
What next? Pack up in frustration and get an earlier flight home? Mooch around Chamonix just killing time for the next 48 hours? No: they set off to Grand Montets for more climbing on rock and ice, ending up at the summit of the Petite Aiguille Verte. Whilst the original plan didn’t work out, he was able to be flexible, adapt to the new situation and consequently still have a fantastic trip, packed with excitement and adventure. His photos certainly attest to that!
This got me thinking: what would I have done in the same situation? After all those months of preparation and considerable expense, would I have let my disappointment get the better of me? In general, how flexible am I when things don’t work out as I’d planned?
Many of us work in industries where things change all the time. How good are we at assessing a situation, taking in the new information and adapting? Are we so rigid that we struggle to incorporate the inevitable changes into our work (and life)?
Mont Blanc’s not going anywhere: maybe one day, my husband will return to tackle the summit. Maybe he’ll choose another mountain. Either way, he’s flexible enough to make the most of the opportunities he does have rather than focus on what could have been.
In case you’re wondering, he brought me a pebble. It’s beautiful, full of gleaming mica.
This week’s pebble for you to examine and weigh up:
How do you handle change? How flexible are you?
Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching.
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