The Andes and Life

Andes mountainsThe Andes, with its 7,000 km length, is the world’s longest above-ground mountain chain stretching from north to south through seven countries in South America, along the west coast of the continent: Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina.

The sheer beauty of this natural formation lies not only in its imposing extension nor its “brand” as one of the most remarkable landscape features in South America, but also in the deep secrets it embodied through the years. As it holds rocks and earth tight and strong, so does it hold lessons we could all profit taking from.

Up and down

The mountains elevate themselves into the sky, above and above. You have to look higher to see the tip, but I am sorry to say that you will reach an end. Unfortunately, it is not a stairway to heaven for there is none, except for the South Korean series Stairway to Heaven.

After reaching its peak, the mountains go down. This characteristic gives mountain the real life feeling which also reminds us of business cycles, of life cycles and of my childhood mountain paintings.

Going up a mountain is an excitement for lots of people. The sensation of reaching higher levels is exhilarating for them. However, on the other side, we should recognise that going the way up takes some work. Prime minister Zhou portrayed this fact very well:

During a foreign trip, Prime Minister Zhou has been asked a very provocative question:

“Why do Chinese people walk with their heads down?”

The Prime Minister smiled and replied: “Because Chinese people are going uphills”

Going down, on the other hand, can be quite fast and even dangerous if one does not control speed. I had plenty colleagues who broke their bones while skiing downhills. The same thing also happens in stock markets, when prices go down extremely quickly and give rise to the black days.

Chains and more chains

The Andes is so long because the mountains are grouped into a chain. This reminds us of the power we can have when we are together. We are diverse (some people like cakes, some others like coffee and some others like writing), but we can also link to each other and have a greater power together. Imagine if the Andes were just a hill, would you still care about it?

Our own lives are actually just a chain of decisions and events. Each of the events is connected to a prior one and the decisions we take today will define what choices we will have tomorrow. In fact, we start at a very basic node when we are kids with uncountable options, and as we grow up and make choices, we narrow down into a specific and unique path. Your life would probably have been completely different if you had studied medicine or astronomy.

Because of the decision chain, sometimes some choices are not possible. That is why it is so useful to think forward. I always thought life is like a chess game. The one who can think more steps ahead, the better insight he/she has and the better he/she can play the game.

Chains are in general very powerful. You might recall that the police uses them to tie prisoners. Ok, you know I am not talking about these kinds of chains right now, but you get my point.

Chains can provoke the ripple effect in which one small thing affects the other and successively, i.e. the domino effect. Precisely because of this fact, they can also be dangerous.

Let’s take a look at some chains in action.

  • Sales: A powerful sales chain would include the worth of mouth marketing of one’s customers, think, e.g. about viral marketing.
  • Bad news: The speed at which bad news can spread can be incredibly quick. Hence, one should be really cautious with these news. Once spread, it can affect the mood inside a company or even the health of its employees.
  • Sickness: Because we are all interlinked, sickness could spread quickly, even across country borders. Ebola has shown us how a disease can spread too fast.
  • Positiveness: A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events and outcomes. It is a catalyst and sparks extraordinary results. Think back to a day where you woke up in a good mood, didn’t the day go better than other days?

Trigger and time

There is some cause or force behind everything in life. In the case of mountains, it has been the eruption of a volcano that started everything. When you consider your life, what are the triggers you have encountered? There have for sure been some key events and some key people in our lives.

 “Almost everything in life is worthless noise, and a very few things are exceptionally valuable. This is as true in networking as it is in almost every other area of life.” – Greg McKeown

After we encounter the trigger, it is a matter of time. In recent times when we are asking for speed and Amazon is working towards same day delivery, it is worthwhile remembering that some good things take time to form. Rome wasn’t built in one day,  and the mountain wasn’t formed in one year.

Efficiency is for sure essential and practice makes us more experienced and better at certain tasks, but some things need their time. Think about a baby, he/she needs about 9 months to come to earth. The same with lots of valuable things or ideas.

That is why when I now need a great idea, I do not stare with frustration at a blank screen, but rather work to make the idea come out and give it its necessary time reminding myself that even

“Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” Thomas Edison

What thoughts do mountains evoke on you?

  • Beautifully written! When I picture climbing a mountain (or when I’m actually climbing a mountain!) I think about delayed gratification. The hard work you put in now will be worth it for the amazing view when you reach the top!