When Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the summit of Mt. Everest on May 29, 1953, they had a view of the world that no one had seen before. In order to reach their camp before nightfall, the pair spent only 15 minutes at the top before beginning their descent. And so, the question is, was the view worth the climb?
To answer that question, let me try a thought experiment with you. If you could suit up and be taken by helicopter to the top of Mt. Everest—ignoring the fact that helicopters can't hover at that elevation—would you expect to be knighted and put in the history books? I wouldn't. What made Hillary and Norgay the heroes that we still talk about 66 years later is the effort it took them to get to the peak: the planning, the training, the money, the hardship, the frostbite and everything else. This is the journey they took, inspiring all of us to see greater potential in ourselves than we saw before.
The same could be said about Neil Armstrong's first steps on the moon, about Christopher Columbus' voyage to America, and about so many other pioneering accomplishments. It's the hardship, the difficulty, the challenges and the risk that we honor and celebrate.
In business endeavors similar principles hold true. The entrepreneur who starts a new business takes financial risk, works long hours and sacrifices in other areas to produce a result. A notable difference in business, however, is the tangible product that might result from that effort. For example, the introduction of new technology, such as a new computer model, might benefit the consumer. That's great for the consumer, and one of the reasons we celebrate entrepreneurs, but it's the entrepreneur who took the journey, endured the hardships, took the risks and made the trade-offs who gets the biggest reward. Those are the rewards of accomplishment, personal growth, increased confidence and the belief in greater things.
So was the view worth the climb? That misses the point. The reason for the climb isn't the view. The reason for the climb is to grow and expand our potential and to see who we really are.