Stepping out of your comfort zone, open to new ideas, opportunities and looking to reach your potential can be very daunting, stressful , frightening and most of the time it is easy to step back into that box you have been living in. It can be easier in that world. A world where you are guaranteed a wage, some security possible opportunity and follow the program and live out your life. There is nothing wrong with this lifestyle or choice and we need all types of people out there working for a better future. When you want more and need more for yourself you need to step out and take it. That is when dreams are born.
I always felt I had more to offer in all areas of my life. I wanted more for myself and wanted fulfillment in my working life. I also wanted a work life balance I could control. I wanted to the freedom to control my destiny. After graduating university and leaving Scotland in 2001, I traveled the world for a year. I headed for South East Asia, Australia, New Zealand and the US. I backpacked, did a lot of hiking, mountaineering and climbing and developed a deeper love for all three. I had been climbing from a young age but bigger mountains were never really an option living in Ireland and Scotland. After my journey around the world I formulated the idea of developing some sort of travel related business thinking a lot about trekking, hiking and surfing and how I could create such an opportunity.
After a year away I had to get a real job and idea’s and travel plans were sidelined. I started working for a company in 2002 to 2009 and managed some side roles and startup businesses to gain further experience along the way. At this time I was trying to maximize my travel time. I visited Asia, South America and around Europe. I was back packing, doing some trekking trips and trying to develop contacts and always looking for future opportunities.
A year into this job I was promoted to Assistant General Manager managing teams and managers and always looking to learn as much as possible. I was studying on the side and taking every opportunity to develop, learn and grow. About 2 years into the job I knew this wasn’t for me. I felt I had so much to offer and felt no-one was listening to my ideas and felt underutilized, demotivated and frustrated about wasting my time in such an environment. I lived for my traveling trips and opportunities to get out explore, see more and in that I was happy. The sad thing is, I was still working for this company four years after I knew I time was up. I was afraid to step out and take the risk.
In 2005 I took a great trip to South America with two friends. We were on a 3 week journey from Lima in Peru to La Paz in Bolivia. In a group of 10 people, we had some great experiences and seeing new cultures, places and learning so much. While on this journey we would trek the Inca Trial to Machu Picchu. I was 26 years old and felt I was in good shape and ready to take on this challenge. I learned many valuable lessons on this trek and learned I was not even close to being fit. My buddy Graham who was with me discovered that he was able to perform well at altitude (low oxygen environment) He was motivated by his performance in the mountains. I struggled to make the short journey to Machu Picchu and took a big hit to my confidence. I questioned my ability, understanding of my physical capability and mental conditioning to be able to reach well under pressure. I had really let my fitness drop and needed this experience to get me back on track. Out of these two differing experiences for Graham and I in Peru the dream of Everest was born. Graham was confident that he could do it and I was really to commit to preparing to the journey of a lifetime.
We were sitting on the back of a bus after doing the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Some people were invigorated by the trek and I was depressed trying to recover from my weak performance. We were talk about treks and other place. One of the girls said she would like to climb Everest. I remember looking at her thinking is she could climb Everest may I could do it. We started talking about trekking to Everest base camp and how we could climb Everest. In that one journey, experience and suggestion of climbing Everest, my life would change forever. We finished our journey to South America on a high and I was determined to make this dream a reality. I wanted it badly!!
I started training again, climbing again and hiking and hill walking as I used to do in Glendalough as a kid. I was out hiking every week and back running and training in the gym. I was also researching Everest and how I could we should approach the climb, training and journey. In May 2006 Graham and I made the journey to Everest base camp. We moved fast up through the Everest region and pushed hard every day. I was flying in the early stage of the trek and in far better shape than I had been on the Inca Trail seven months earlier. I felt fit and ready for the challenge. On day five at 4,410m in Dingbouche high in the Everest region I got really sick from AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) I was bed ridden for 24 hours. My body was so fatigued, tired and worse than my Inca trail experience. I really was wondering if this was a dream too far. I could barely manage a trek up to Everest base camp. How was I going to climb to the top of Everest. I took some Diamox and managed to recover enough to get to base camp, experience the region, people and get face to face with Everest.
We made the journey up to Kala Phattar at 5,545m for one of the great views of Everest. It was cloudy with brief moments of the summit. I will never forget standing their looking at top of Everest through the clouds. I said to myself I will be back and I will stand on the top. On our way back down out of the Everest region we stopped off in Namche Bazaar, the Sherpa Capital. We started to talk more about climbing Everest and started telling people we would be back in two years. People were laughing at us and telling us this wasn’t possible. We sat in the back of Café Danfe one of the highest bars in the world. The bar is full of t-shirts from treks and expeditions into the region. We decided to put up our own t-shirt on the 24th May 2006 and add some Irish mountains we had climbed with ticked boxes. We wrote Everest at the bottom with an open box, underneath that we wrote ‘Irish Everest Expedition 2008, Watch This Space’
During the process of climbing four mountains on four continents between June 2007 and June 2008 and my roller coaster ride to even get to the base of Mt. Everest I was always thinking of how I could exit my job and break free from that toxic environment that was crushing my spirit and drive. I was business planning, gaining experience and knowledge and laying the ground work for a future move post Everest.
After climbing all 4 mountains on 4 continents in one year. I had climbed Everest, raised enough money built the Mt. Everest primary school as part of our climb on Everest and stood on the top of the world on May 23rd 2008. Two years after deciding to climb Everest in Café Danfe in Namche Bazaar in Nepal.
I had secured three months off work with massive resistance from most of my bosses. I didn’t care at that stage. I would have easily left if I wasn’t given the time off. I came back to normal life and work, where people had little understanding about what I had just done. I had spent 72 days climbing Everest, I became the youngest Irishman to climb Everest at 29 years old. I sacrificed so much for a small chance to standing on the top of Everest. I had learned a wide range of new skills that I needed to apply to my own life. On my return to work, I got smart comments and negativity about my Everest climb. My role was being mis-managed and knew I was being managed out of the company. Ten months later I was made redundant and standing on the welfare line with no money and everything buried into my Everest climb and preparation. I was living with my parents and had no job.
It was time for me to shine. I started developing treks, hikes and climbs around the world. I set up the business plan and started to set in motion my speaking career. I took on some business projects to keep me going helping others in their startups and doing some business analysis. I was slowly formulating what I wanted to do and made it happen. I got married in 2010 and needed some more funds to further the trekking business so I took on a business turn around project. I was going to dedicate one year to the project but ending up giving two years which turned out to be a great success. I opened up new revenue streams, secured funding and changed the business for the better.
Six years later we have an office in Kathmandu, Tanzania and US. I speak internationally about Everest, vision, belief, passion, planning and business. I am an ambassador for Fields of Life doing amazing work in East Africa. I have climbed Kilimanjaro 18 times to date aiming for 50 summits. I have climbed numerous peaks around the world, including Island peak 7 times. I have climbed 6 of the 7 summits and lead 14 Everest base camp treks. In 2016 I hope to lead a small team on a new historic route to the South Pole and out living my dream leading treks and climbs around the world.
None of this was easy, ‘if you want something you never had, you have to do something you have never done.’ I was given an opportunity. I could have ignored the call of Everest on the back of the bus in Peru ten years ago. I could be still working somewhere I am not happy and not having the chance to reach my full potential. I want something more for my life and others and now have the opportunity to shape my future. Maybe it won’t go as planned and I get caught up in earthquakes, loss of earnings and challenges and it is not going to be easy. I hold the cards and have a responsibility to make a difference where I can. I encourage you to step out, start planning, aim high capture your dream and surround yourself with mentors and people who will help you reach your full potential.
If you would like some business consultancy and career guidance or if you would like to enquire about our treks to Nepal, Kilimanjaro and around the world. Feel free to drop me a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us and set up an appointment.