7 Things I Learned About Life From Climbing a Mountain for the First Time

Beautiful sunrise at Mount Batur, Bail, Indonesia.

Climbing a mountain for the first time is challenging but very rewarding.

Last month, I was in Bali for an entrepreneur incubator program. On our second weekend, we woke up at 2am to climb Mount Batur. It was my first time ever climbing a mountain and I was a bit hesitant at first. But I glad I did it because it was quite an experience and I learned a few lessons about life from climbing a mountain.

Here are 7 lessons I have learned.

1. Ignorance is bliss.

I didn’t know how challenging it is to climb a mountain. When a few others decided to climb Mount Batur for the weekend, I just went with the flow. I didn’t how high Mount Batur is. And thank goodness, I didn’t know how high it is. If I knew that it is 1.717km high, I might not want to climb it.

Sometimes in life, it’s easier to take action when you have less information. The more information you have, the more afraid you might feel. I’m glad I climbed Mount Batur when it was dark and before sunrise. When we were getting down in the morning, I gasped and thought to myself, “How did we manage to climb all the way up here?”

2. You don’t have to be the best to be successful.

When I told my parents that I’m climbing a mountain in Bali, they laughed. They know I’m a city boy. I’m not someone that anyone would considered physically fit. In fact, I’m the type that would prefer to stay in library and read books. But somehow I managed to get myself up there.

This shows that you don’t have to be the best, the most knowledgable or the most experience to be successful. All you need to do is to take action. If you fail, learn from it and adjust your action in the next try.

3. You can’t do something so great alone.

I won’t had climbed the mountain if my friends weren’t there to support me. I realized that regardless of work, business or life, if you want to do something great, you need a team of people that support you and believe what you believe.

It’s easier to reach your goals if everyone has the same goals as you. We all wanted to get up the mountain before dawn to see the sunrise together. I wouldn’t want to disappoint my friends so I kept climbing. Suddenly, climbing the mountain wasn’t an individual activity anymore. It was a team activity.

4. Learn from someone who’s in flow.

At first, when I was climbing the mountain, I didn’t have any strategy. I just took whatever steps my foot landed on. Halfway into the climb, I was exhausted, panting heavily and having a cramp in my leg. My friend, Donavan, is in the health and fitness industry, he kept telling me to take smaller steps and even pointed out the next step to me.

I could have let my ego get in the way and not listen. But I chose to listen, because I know he’s an expert in this area. You can’t be the leader in all areas. If you are not good in something, be humble and learn from someone who knows what he’s talking about!

5. Take small steps, one step at a time.

My friend’s advice to take small steps not only have helped me climb the mountain, it reminded me to slow down my life and my business. I had the tendency to take big steps and do my work fast. There’s noting wrong with being efficient, so long as you don’t rush your work. Sometimes, I get so excited to complete my work that I might stressed myself out for not working fast enough.

You can reach your goals either by being steady and relaxed or by rushing and feeling burnout. Both methods achieve the same outcome. Which one would you choose?

6. Take a break when necessary.

I took a lot of breaks when I was climbing Mount Batur. One of my friends, Yanick was so nice and considerate. She kept telling me not to feel bad for taking breaks because they needed breaks too. I was actually not ashamed of taking breaks because I knew breaks were necessary for me to get up the mountain.

In life, it’s okay to take a break and stop once in a while too. Give yourself the permission to take a break. It doesn’t matter how many breaks you take as long as you don’t give up. If you keep climbing, you would eventually reach the top.

7. Appreciate the beauty (at every stage of the journey).

After my experience in Niagara Falls, I realized that every stage of the journey is beautiful. So I reminded myself to admire the beauty around me as I was taking breaks. Even though I was panting heavily, I saw a glimpse of the beautiful sky and stars. I saw the beautiful line of people with torches climbing up the mountain from below. I saw people helping each other climb the mountain.

The view at the peak is beautiful and magnificent, but the view at each level of the mountain has its own beauty too. You should give them the moment they deserve. Same goes to life, no matter what stage you are in. Find time and appreciate the beauty around you.

Climbing a Mountain for the Second Time?

Now that I have climbed the mountain. I know how challenging and difficult it was. Would I do it again?

Sometimes in life, it’s even much harder to overcome the fear of starting a second time than starting something new for the first time. Finding another job, writing a second book and starting a second business is not easy because the fear of failure is greater. You feel like you need to match the success or avoid the failure from the first time.

But it’s important to process the value of doing something the second time, and not let fears make your decision.

I believe I would climb a mountain again if I’m with the right people. I’ll let you know when I do climb again. I’m sure there would be a new set of lessons to be learned.


Yong Kang Chan, best known as Nerdy Creator, is a self-help author, teacher and introvert. He helps people see different perspectives towards life, so that they feel loved, understood and inspired.

Originally published at my website.