“I’ve climbed Mt. Whitney multiple times and sometimes you go for 10, 15 hours without seeing another person, so it’s nice to come across someone in the journey.”
So says Feyzi Fatehi, my guest on the Disrupt Yoursef Podcast. Deciding to become a mountaineer and scale the highest peak in the contiguous 48 states is not the most disruptive thing he’s ever done, but he does use it as a metaphor to illustrate the reasoning behind some of his more astonishing personal and career leaps.
“I moved to Silicon Valley, hired by HP directly from school…I was introduced to the whole joy of hiking and nature and Yosemite, Lake Tahoe and Sequoia National Park and so on. And one of my good friends, Scott—he was a former Navy Delta Force, special ops, and had all these trainings—he said, ‘Feyzi, I want to go to Mt. Whitney; we got to get a permit. They just issue very few permits. We have to be proactive, and I want to train you. It’s going to be three months. There’s theory behind it; there’s practical training. There’s….’ So we went through three months of training together and another friend who was literally a rocket scientist, working for NASA…So John, Scott and I—the three of us—decided to go climb Mt. Whitney together after the sufficient training. And that was a phenomenal journey.”
I’m not really a hiker myself, much less a serious climber, but I do understand setting lofty goals and striving to achieve them—personal summits and professional ones. It’s important to attain them. I like Feyzi’s characterization of what should come next—
“I think I was the least athletically qualified person…But regardless, it’s an experience that nobody can take away from you. And I know when was at the peak…they had got their 15, 20 minutes before me and they had bet that they admired my perseverance to get very close, but that last quarter mile they had bet with each other…high-fived with each other that I’m not going to make it. And then they start seeing my straw hat and then my head and my neck and then I got myself there. And they waited, despite the low oxygen…you don’t want to wait up there too long; we didn’t carry oxygen with us—they waited another 10, 15 minutes so I enjoyed the moment of being in the summit and then we descended.”
Scaling the mountain is a metaphor for achievement, but so is descending.
“If you set a goal it should be audacious, bold; it shouldn’t be easy. It should challenge you to muster all your mental and physical and possible training that you can get. You get to a peak, you have to come down and then go up to the next one. And then with each experience you see new vistas, you see new beauties that you haven’t experienced before. So it becomes a journey of experiences—new experiences.”
Feyzi is a great advocate of enjoying the beauty of the moment…for a moment.
“I decided to disrupt myself because I felt too comfortable. And I always told myself when you feel too comfortable you got to move. You got to start moving. It’s like in climbing; you can’t just camp somewhere. You’ve got to keep moving. You can rest. You can look around; you can take a deep breath, have a snack. But you’ve got to keep moving; otherwise you get to complacent.”
What he advocates in mountain-climbing is what he advocates—and has done in his career. You can hear more about that on the podcast by listening on iTunes or in the player above.