Last Friday evening, I went to a celebration with recent and soon-to-be graduates of the Expeditionary Studies program.  Family and friends also were in the audience waiting to hear a few words from the faculty and me. 

I shared a story about an important lesson I learned during one of my many climbs in the Rocky Mountains.  My best friend is an elite climber who has taken me climbing in many amazing places. One day, we went to a spire just south of Boulder, Colorado named The Maiden (Click on the link for a picture; yes, I did the rappel too).  We took the northern route, one that requires passage over a narrow bridge of rock that seemed to be about 30 feet in length.  I’m not afraid of heights, but this one made my palms sweat a little because of potential consequences.  My friend went to the other side like a skilled tightrope walker and anchored the other end of the rope that was attached to me.  There’s a quote by *Chris Duff that is important at this point.  He said, “Never put your body where you mind hasn’t been first.”  This is good or bad depending on what you choose to visualize.  I was frozen in place by fear as I briefly imagined my body swinging down and crashing against the wall on the other side.  I quickly decided on a more positive image and imagined myself on the narrow expanse of rock.  Then, I loudly said in my head, “Fear is not an option.”  At that focused moment, I took the first confident step of many that got me to the other side. 

I know the power of lessons learned during adventures and appreciate friends and guides who lead me or anyone else to these moments of self-growth.  These are lessons that generalize and last a lifetime.  Students in the expeditionary studies program learned their own lessons under the guide of our expert faculty members.  I reminded the students that it is now their turn to lead others to these critical moments of awareness.  Then, I shared a quote by **Sir Edmund Hillary, “People do not decide to become extraordinary. They decide to accomplish extraordinary things.”  I challenged the expeditionary studies students to go out and accomplish extraordinary things. 

With advisement beginning this week, we have the privilege to lead and mentor our advisees.  We can bring focus to moments that will help chart their course for many years.  My greatest hope over the next two weeks is that you inspire your advisees to accomplish extraordinary things.  

* Information about Chris Duff: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Duff
** Information about Edmund Hillary: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edmund_Hillary