“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” — Confucius
Every Sunday night at 9 pm EDT I host A Climb to the Top: Stories of Transformation on New York’s Talk Radio 77WABC. The show features individuals from all walks of life who have overcome adversity, career challenges, and life’s unexpected obstacles. Each guest discusses their tale of transformation that helped them climb their proverbial mountains of happiness and success.
With 30 guests interviewed in 2020, I see commonalities in what seem like such disparate stories. In spite of profession, industry, nationality, race, or gender, the factors our guests attribute to personal and/or professional transformation are remarkably similar.
While transformation in any living thing is thought of as a “dramatic change in form or appearance,” that is not always the case in human beings. Transformations can be hard to measure, and no two look alike. How does one even know that a big personal or professional change occurred without a milestone or other marker? Because inside our hearts and minds we know it, feel it, keep working on it, and ultimately emerge in a better place than before.
While there may be some physical reaction such as an accident or recovery from addiction, human transformations are more often felt than seen. Also, they rarely come with an “Aha!” moment or an epiphany. Like scaling a mountain, it is difficult to know how high you have climbed until you stop to look down. Usually in these instances of self-reflection, your mind and heart are struck by the realization of how far you’ve come.
One of our guests, Jeff Wald, the author of The End of Jobs: The Rise of the Agile Company and the On-Demand Worker, has said of transformation, “The key is getting knocked down seven times and getting up eight.”
While the catalyst for transformation often comes from failure, disappointment, and despair, those things usually evoke a strong emotional reaction that leads to many questions: What just happened? How did I get here? What did I learn from the obstacles and setbacks?
Whatever you ask yourself, my radio guests point to three common characteristics for those in the process of “dramatic change in form or appearance.”
- If things are not going well in life or work, they fail fast. They retool, reset, and get back on a path up another mountain as quickly as possible.
- They display courage by committing to change their mind, heart, and/or direction while they discover alternative paths.
- They continually work on their interpersonal and communication skill development. The majority of my guests have communicated with staunch conviction, “My profession is easy. People are hard.”
When you find yourself in a life and/or career situation that causes you to reflect and possibly change course, consider the guests from A Climb to the Top. As we are all each other’s teachers, I hope you find inspiration and calls to action from the stories of others who have overcome various obstacles on their path to happiness and success. Contemplate these three common factors as a guidepost for your transformation. Then, take a step forward. You are now one stride closer to the top of your mountain.
To hear stories of transformation as you strive to change yourself, check out A CLIMB TO THE TOP: STORIES OF TRANSFORMATON TALK RADIO 77WABC.