• I AM Katrina Lavette'


Updated: Aug 4, 2021

Recently I was working through a few exercises in a Leadership Challenge Workbook written by James Kouzes and Barry Posner. The phrase, “one hop at a time” intrigued me to stop and read a little deeper. Kouzes and Posner decided their approach with gathering information for the leadership project would be different this time. Instead of focusing on famous people of power within organizations, they would focus on ordinary people that do extraordinary things. Captivated? So was I!

Headline: Don Bennett, an amputee, climbed Mt. Rainier in 1982. I wanted to learn more about who Don Bennett was, so I did some research. According to research, Don lost his right leg in a boating accident. Before the accident, he was a successful business man who had made great strides in his life. One report stated he owned an eight-bedroom house on the waterfront and a ski chalet. So why climb a mountain?

During his recovery, Don decided he wanted to bring hope to others. He was determined to do something he had never done before, climb Mt. Rainier. You heard me right, 14,411 feet! When asked the question “how did you make it to the top?”, Don replied, “one hop at a time.”

As an entrepreneur, the journey can be difficult. We always have to climb mountains, deal with uncertainty, and overcome barriers and setbacks. We have to adapt to challenging schedules, learn how to be flexible, balance work life and family life, and maintain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Did I mention we have to deal with disappointments? If we just be honest for a moment, sometimes these challenges paralyze us. Let’s see what Don learned about the importance of leadership and how he was able to accomplish his 14, 411 feet goal.

1) ONE HOP AT A TIME. Don quickly learned on his journey that he did not need to look to far ahead. Don knew he had to take 14,411 steps in order to reach the top of Mt. Rainier; however, he learned how to focus on one hop at a time. He told himself that anyone can hop from here to there. Looking ahead is not a problem as long as we do not become overwhelmed or discouraged at how far we have to go. Sometimes our goals are so big that it can overwhelm us when we try to figure out all of the details. Don knew if he just focused on putting one foot ahead of the other foot, he would eventually get to the top. It doesn't matter if it takes you 4 days, 13 hours a day like it took Don or 2 years, just keep taking one hop at a time!

2) CLIMBING MT. RAINIER WAS BIGGER THAN HIM. Don made it clear that he was leaving a legacy for others. He wanted to show other people that were disabled that they are capable of doing more than they could imagine. This climb was bigger than his aspirations, success, or any glory that could possibly come along as a result of the climb. Yes, he was the one climbing the mountain, but he was climbing the mountain for every disabled person in the world.

3) YOU CAN NOT DO IT ALONE. When asked what was the most important thing that he learned from this climb, Don replied, “you cannot do it alone.” He realized he needed a team and a support system. In order for him to achieve this goal, he needed a good team around him to assist him. He relied on his team for support, encouragement, information, and he learned new skills from others on his team. Look around you! Who is on your team today? We, too, need a support team to help us climb mountains and overcome obstacles while we are running our race.

Don Bennett’s determination, tenacity, and spirit of resiliency still lives on. Everyone can glean from Don. Run your race and stay the course. Your legacy is bigger than you, and remember, you cannot do it alone. The race is not given to the swift nor the battle to the strong (Ecclesiastes 9:11). All it takes is one hop at a time!


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