I spent 20 min on top of Mt Everest. Here is what I learned about the meaning of life

I spent 20 minutes alone of top of Mt Everest, the highest mountain on the planet. Here is what I learned about the meaning of life.

You see, in the mountains the weather always changes and you just never know how things turn out. In mountaineering, under extreme conditions, you have to have this mentality that you can just keep walking up into the unknown and that at some point you’ll safely reach the summit. Sounds familiar? That’s how life in general works, too, right?

On Mt Everest I was starting in the end of the weather window (a period of 5-7 days in a year when you can safely attempt to reach the summit). I knew there was just a 2-hr summit window three days into the future… my only chance, a culmination of my 2-months expedition.

On my way up I meet other team members who are descending from the summit. They are telling me things are brutal up high, there is no good weather forecast, and that my chances are slim.

Usually noone goes up at the end of the summit window. Everyone tries to go as soon as possible, that’s why we have the infamous lines on the mountain.

These men look so torn apart, faces burned, there are scars from the wind and the sun on their faces. They call this burn the Kiss of Everest, the area on your cheek between the goggles and the oxy mask that stays uncovered. The skin there gets burned even through the sunscreen. If these strong men think it was tough for them, why did I think I was strong enough to summit?

I am the only climber attempting this window. Everyone else descended or delayed their summit bid.

I am alone on the whole mountain. I have Mt Everest to myself for the next 3 days! An introvert’s dream.

I am wavering between panic and a mental surrender. A thought to turn around never crosses my mind. Because I believe, in myself, in my big dream, in doing it my way. I think to myself, if having the top of the world so close does not inspire you to keep plodding, nothing ever will.

As I was struggling my way up for the next 3 days towards my dream summit, my big goal, all I had left was to believe that the forecast wouldn’t change and the weather window would stay open.

Same in everyday life…

We live in turbulent times – recessions, wars, viruses.

We struggle.

We barely have the strength left in us.

But we have to believe that things work out in the end.

Because we have our big vision.

We find the fight in us.

We don’t have to listen to anyone else.

We sing our own song.

We create our own path.

We need to know where our summit is. Without this knowledge we turn our everyday life into a collection of meaningless tasks. We live a reactive life, ever so sensitive to the outside factors. We play blame games. We victimize. We feed our brains with negative information from the media. We delay our plans until “one day” because we feel no urgency or value in anything we are doing. We savor neverending complaints from our neighbors who, like us, refuse to open their eyes and their minds to the simple truth – we need to find our purpose.

Contemplate this. The Universe is about 13.8 billion years old. There are 200 billion trillion stars in our Universe. That’s one with 21 zeros! You are one of the 8 billion people living on this planet.

The knowledge about the Universe’s vastness should calm you down. Its peace is beyond understanding.

Is there really a need to create stories, live in fear, succumb to the negative?

If the vast Universe is well, all is well.

Our hearts and our brains are parts of this Universe. Feel it. Take your part in this cosmic dance. Grow with it.

Then, look in your own eyes in the mirror when you think there is nothing else left in you – you have your purpose left in you.

Keep climbing.


Every first Saturday of the month at 9 am PT/noon ET I hold a 1.5 hrs ‘Reach Any Summit’ Masterclass – Building and Monetizing Your Mindset. Every month there is a new topic that we cover from 4 main categories: Purpose/Mindset/Personal Brand; Goal-setting and productivity hacks; Risk taking and dealing with fear; Monetizing your mindset. You can join for just one session and see if this is for you. Email me to find out the next month’s topic.

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Pictured: A view from the summit of Mt Everest

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About the author: 

Olga Koroleva is a founder and CEO of Capital Brain, a company that builds AI-powered products. She is also a high-altitude mountaineer who likes to climb mountains with double-digit death rates, University lecturer, and a public speaker on leadership and risk taking. Sign up to her self-leadership newsletter at https://capitalbrain.co/blog/