Sitting in the Four Seasons Hotel with my good friend, Suzanne de Passe was another afternoon of learning. Suzanne de Passe as a young executive helped to manage the careers of the Jackson 5, Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, and Stevie Wonder. She is truly a legend in Hollywood. As a black woman she always went against all challenges and became a “who’s who” in leadership.
We did our usual talk about her projects and other interesting projects going on in the industry. While we were talking, we were interrupted by two other people in the entertainment industry. One was Lionel Richie, who launched a band called The Commodores, and helped change the landscape of music, but now is a little more famous for having a daughter named Nicole Richie. Then, I felt a hand on my shoulder and I looked up to see Russell Simmons. Russell Simmons is a true genius. From music, to fashion, to his humanitarian work, Russell is known as the father of Hip Hop.
I remember the last time I was with Russell, we were in his New York office and I was telling him how amazed I was with how many successful projects he had. He said, “Tim, for everything you see that’s successful, could you imagine the things I did that didn’t work and that you never saw?” He laughed.
I have found that every single person that dreams big dreams, believes and goes after a finest life must somehow get through obstacles. The conversation at the table in Beverly Hills had to do with endurance and getting through tough times in the midst of a shaky economy. We’re living in a time for dreamers to arrive, dig deep, and make it happen. You see some people make it happen while other people let it happen to them.
Every one of us today faces mountains that we must climb, whether it’s a health challenge, a financial challenge, or maybe even a relationship challenge. Let’s call these mountains. The idea is to somehow end up on top of whatever you’re facing. As I’ve studied mountain climbing, and done a little bit of my own, I’ve found there are five levels of mountain climbing: beginning, intermediate, experienced, expert, and elite.
Beginning is very light climbing, you can do this with your tennis shoes, but when you go to the elite level, which only a very small percentage of people can, you must have passed the expert level and excelled in these 3 areas: having the right skills, knowing how to use the mountain climbing tools, and having an elite attitude. That sounds a lot to me… like life.
Sometimes people face big mountains and try to climb them like an elite and they wonder why they’re frustrated. Getting to the top is step by step, one foot in front of the other, using your skills, using the right tools, and definitely keeping the right attitude.
Many of you know the story of Ingvar Kamprad, he is the founder and creator of IKEA. He is known as one of richest people in the world. Even in America, we see IKEAs everywhere. His motto is that even people without the most money should still be able to live comfortably. If you study his life, you will find that he did not just end up on the “IKEA mountain”. He worked on his skills, used the right tools, and worked on his attitude. He started off as a young boy in business, selling matches—of all things. A young boy with a dream, and a pocket full of matches would someday be a billionaire… see, you never know.
From matches he began to sell fish, from fish he began to sell Christmas tree decorations to willing neighbors who wanted these items. Step by step, climbing up the mountain, and now definitely enjoying the view.
It’s easy at times to get frustrated and want to quit, but I suggest you simply take a breath, breathe in the oxygen, look around, and realize that your view is really not that bad… even from where you are.
Keep up your attitude; keep using the right tools, because even difficult times have given you the skills. Don’t forget someone needs you to go before them and become a great example and letting them know the view is really great from the top.
“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” PHIL.4.13
“If there is ever such a thing as good leadership, it is to give a good example. I have to do so for all the IKEA employees.”