Drawing from her experience on the first American Women’s Everest Expedition, keynote speaker Alison Levine presented “On the Edge: The Art of High-Impact Leadership” during Congress Xstream’s General Session Tuesday, June 2.
“The rate of change we’re experiencing right now is unprecedented,” Levine said, opening her session by describing the state of the world amid a global pandemic.
Levine, the team captain of the expedition, led attendees on how to maneuver through life's obstacles, including facing fears and tackling change in "extreme environments."
“As a climber, I learned more about tackling challenges, overcoming obstacles, and dealing with a crazy amount of change on that trip than just about any other trip that I’ve been on,” Levine said.
Levine’s first lesson is to not be afraid of going backward when trying to make progress. Her prime example was her experience going back and forth between base camp and Everest’s summit at 30,000 feet in order to climatize— which is allowing the body to acclimate to high altitude.
“We tend to think that progress has to happen in one particular direction, but that’s not the case,” Levine said. “Sometimes you’ll have to go backwards for a bit in order to eventually get to where you want to be, so don’t look at backtracking as losing ground. Look at it as an opportunity to regroup, regain some strength, so you’re better out of the gates the next time around.”
Attendees enjoyed Levine's presentation and energy, and were able to take her lessons and apply them to their own daily lives.
"Kind of like a career—sometimes [you] have to go backwards to go forward!" Robin Davis, CPP, wrote in the chat.
Levine taught attendees that there's nothing wrong with being afraid of a daunting task.
"Fear is OK; it's a normal human emotion," she said. "Complacency is what will kill you. Fear is a useful tool. It keeps you alert, awake, and aware of everything around you, and you have to be able to act and react quickly when you're in these environments that are constantly changing."
Once again, attendees in the chat remarked on how relevant these lessons are to current payroll issues.
"It reminds me of the last three months and all the regulations and changes," wrote Luanne Brown, CPP.
Levine left the audience with a positive message about embracing life and pushing toward your goals.
"Sometimes things are going to go your way, sometimes things are not going to go your way. That's a part of life," Levine said. "You have to be willing to go out there and push yourself on these peaks day after day even when it feels uncomfortable, and you have to be able to weather the storms if you're ever going to have an opportunity to enjoy this kind of view."
After the presentation, Levine answered attendee questions in her Networking Lounge Meet-and-Greet chatroom, giving more inspirational tips and advice as an encore.
"I know you are all climbing your own mountains these days. One step at a time ... We are all going to make it through this--we are," Levine wrote. "I know things feel scary—BUT YOU CAN BE SCARED ... AND BRAVE ... AT THE SAME TIME. You can."