When I decided to travel halfway around the world and climb Mt. Kilimanjaro in January of 2023, one of my only fears was taking the 2-week trip alone.  I have done solo travel in the past, but never anything this extreme and for this long.  But as I planned the trip, I realized that doing this alone would be the most impactful approach for me.  I knew I would meet wonderful people in my group for the 7-day journey up the mountain, but I wasn’t prepared for the profound impact a group of 10 strangers would have on my life in such a short period of time.  I learned a lot about what makes a team, what it feels like to build real trust, the deep kind, and that it is possible to build relationships in 7 days that will last you the rest of your life.

My biggest takeaway was that real relationships don’t always take time to build; they take circumstances.  Much like coal under immense pressure creates a diamond, when humans are put in extreme circumstances, all the barriers to relationships and trust go away.  You have to trust each other to get through the next obstacle, and you start to see each person as a part of your journey and your success.

The people I met on this adventure were from all over the world, with different cultures, social norms, experiences, and backgrounds, and yet we came together in less than 24 hours and created bonds that will last forever.  We didn’t care what each other’s political beliefs were or what we did for a living (I don’t think I even told people about what I do in much detail).  All we cared about was being a group of 11 people with one common goal – to make it up the mountain and have fun doing it.

Coming back off the mountain made me examine my relationships and how surface-level some of them were or had become.  So many of us go through life on auto-pilot, hanging out with the same people, attending the same networking events, and not challenging ourselves to branch out and meet people from different backgrounds to expand our thinking.  You can’t wait for new perspectives to come to you; you must go in search of them.  And here’s a tip:  you won’t find them in the same places you’ve always been.

I thought I was worldly and adventurous, at least in comparison to the people in my circles.  Then I met this group and realized there is a whole other caliber of global citizen out there that truly has a world view beyond anyone I had met before.  I spent the trip amazed at their experiences and the global perspectives they eagerly searched for and left Tanzania with a focus on broadening the circles I spend my time in.

And I’ve had to reconcile that the people I have spent time with are great, there’s nothing wrong with the people in my circles, but I realized that when people have not had real-life experience, things that knocked them down, it’s hard for them to have a level of depth in their soul that you can learn from.  The most successful people I know have had real struggles and put themselves in challenging situations where they could fail.  For me to grow and become the person I believe I’m supposed to be, I need to find more of those people to spend time with.  I’ve realized that life is too short to spend with people who aren’t dreaming big and imagining the impact they could have in the world.

Sometimes the people who impact us the most are those we don’t choose or plan for.  And sometimes the people we choose and hope will impact us don’t – and that’s ok.  We can still love them all and choose who we give the most energy to.