Whether she’s undertaking a polar expedition or climbing Mt. Everest, Alison Levine takes on challenges most people wouldn’t dream of attempting.
She learned many lessons about leadership and motivation along the way.
“What motivates me to push my boundaries is the thought that my achievements may inspire other people to try new things, to push themselves outside of their comfort zones, and to never doubt their ability to achieve their dreams,” says Levine, an author, adventurist, and leadership expert who’ll address the 2019 CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference.
She shares insights on leadership and success with Credit Union Magazine.
Levine: Oh man, there are too many to list—which is why I wrote “On the Edge”—but I will give you one. If you want to survive the storms, you and your team must be able to take action based on the situation rather than taking action based on “a plan.”
That’s because whatever plan you came up with last year, last week, or even that morning will be outdated as soon as it’s finished. You must be able to act and react quickly when you are in environments that are constantly shifting and changing.
Therefore, the ability to think on your feet, improvise, and pivot will be critical to success.
Levine: Well, of course I was initially overcome with disappointment. Two months of blood, sweat, and tears on the mountain, not to mention all the time spent fundraising, organizing the team, getting all the gear and supplies together, months of training before the climb, etc.
And then there was the big “post-expedition media tour” where we were all over TV and I was telling the story of our “failure” over and over again. There was no escape from the reminders that I was part of a high-profile failure.
But then I started thinking about all the climbers who tried and failed on Everest in the past and realized I was in pretty good company. And what I learned was that I need to define success on my own terms rather than letting others dictate what success should look like.
Coach K (Mike Krzyzewski) because he has shown that he can create a winning team year after year—and because I really love college basketball.
Levine: Don’t believe that crap about “Do what you love and the money will follow.”
Yeah, I realize that some seven-year-old kid made $22 million last year reviewing toys on YouTube videos, but for most of us, life doesn’t work that way. Sometimes you have to suck it up and do things you don’t enjoy to achieve success down the road.
Levine: George H. W. Bush. News of his passing marked the first time I cried upon hearing the news that a president had died. He was an amazing man and served our country with honor throughout his entire adult life.
I don’t believe we will ever see another POTUS like him again. I am not sure today’s younger generation realizes what an incredible human being he was.
Levine: When people do not follow through on commitments. Don’t ever promise something you cannot deliver.
Levine: I am making a documentary film called The Glass Ceiling, which tells the story of Pasang Lhamu Sherpa, the first female Sherpa to climb Mt. Everest.
She had to fight for the right to climb because while the government of Nepal allowed foreign women to climb Everest, they did not support local women doing so. Pasang could not read or write, yet she had the guts to go up against the government of her country to fight for equal rights for female Sherpas.
Her determination paid off and she was finally granted access to the mountain. She made three unsuccessful attempts to reach Everest’s summit, and finally made it to the top in 1993—but she died on the descent.
She left an incredible legacy, and her efforts changed things for the better for all women in Nepal—and women in many other countries, too. Her story has never been told, but our film team is planning to change that as soon as we raise the rest of the funding for the film.