Sometimes the path becomes more difficult. It is steeper, the weather has turned, everything may seem foreign and yet the stakes for your family and your business could not be higher. Where do you turn?
In 1953 Sir Edmund Hillary became the first man to reach the summit of Mount Everest. You may not know that the Sherpa Tenzing Norkay was with him. At that time Tenzing had led more Westerners through the Himalayas than anyone else. I was born 8 years after these two men made history. I have always been more like Tenzing than Edmund.
Like Edmund, you are an expert on what you do best. Like Tenzing, I have learned how to be a guide to help lead families and their businesses through the difficult terrain that occurs to all of us at various points in life.
My Sherpa training began as a psychologist specializing in family therapy, when many families that owned businesses began knocking on the door of my yurt hut asking for help. I realized I needed to keep learning more if I was to become a better Sherpa. I took MBA classes. I went to Harvard’s Executive Education program to earn a certificate in business strategy. I worked with master Sherpas. But most importantly, I kept learning from my clients’ journeys and my own inner journey.
Eventually, I moved out of my yurt into a large warm office at Grand Valley State University where I used my Sherpa skills to teach family business and direct the Family Owned Business Institute at the Seidman College of Business. Yet more families that own businesses kept knocking on my door looking for a Sherpa. I longed to feel the cold wind on my face and to lace up my hiking boots and lead more expeditions.
In 2016, Lancaster University’s Management School in the United Kingdom needed a Sherpa and asked me to become an Honorary Teaching Fellow in Strategy and Entrepreneurship. This allowed me to still be a Sherpa in academia, but also wear my parka most of the year. Now I can spend more time leading expeditions covering even more difficult terrain.