WHY YOU SHOULD HIRE MOUNTAIN FANATICS

While majority of the workforce spends the weekends relaxing in front of the television or reading a book or watching a movie, there’s a sector of the population that religiously go through the ritual of doing a long drive to the mountains, spending an entire day hiking or even hanging out in the vast wilderness the entire weekend from the moment the clock hits 5 p.m. on a Friday afternoon until the late hours of Sunday night. The hardcore ones would even go so far as venture out of state, drive the entire night and get to the office directly at 9 a.m. on a Monday.

In my case, I have gone so far as to catch a flight from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania with two layovers before getting to Dulles Airport in the D.C. metro area and going directly to my first court hearing at 9 a.m. before a judge. What was in Tanzania? Kilimanjaro. Shamelessly, I will admit that I didn’t have a shower since I left Dar es Salaam the 20 plus hours prior. I managed, however, to freshen up with baby wipes and traded my hiking clothes with a clean suit that’s appropriate for a courtroom proceeding. Thankfully, after five minutes into the hearing, my brain shifted back to legal-minded mode and was able to turn off the mantra in my head, “pole-pole”, which is Swahili for “slowly, slowly.” No more mountains to go slow for, after all. Sadly, that is. Yes, I know, it’s crazy.

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Meeting a fellow 9 to 5-er who loves the mountains on my long weekend solo trek in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

Some of your office colleagues, unbeknownst to you, are mountain fanatics. The hardcore ones will be the last of the batch to tell you that for fear of being labeled as being nonchalant about their jobs. Truth be told, mountain fanatics which include hikers, climbers, trekkers, and backpackers are some of the best employees you will encounter. Hire them. As one of them, I would.

Not convinced yet? Here’s why you should hire mountain fanatics:

  1. Mountain fanatics know what it means to chill. And that’s not a bad thing. One of the major perks of being out in the wild for a while is coming back to civilization all refreshed and ready to dive into the chaos of the work world. Detaching one’s self from work by being in nature is one of the most effective ways of rebooting. Next time you noticed someone on a Monday morning looking extra cheerful and exuding a vibrant persona, consider the thought that he or she might have spent an ample amount of time in the mountains. Then, notice if the person gives off some kind of a burnt smell — that’s compelling evidence of someone who was around a campfire. Congrats! You spotted a mountain fanatic. He or she smiled at you in the elevator and engaged in a brief overview of how the weekend went. And, without admitting it openly, you liked the encounter because, you know, that’s rare these days! Then you note to yourself, “there’s no better way to start a Monday.”
  2. Mountain fanatics are goal-minded. After all, why else would we go out there in the wilderness? There’s always a goal. That can range from spending time in the wild camping, doing a leisurely hike, socializing over a campfire, peak-bagging, breaking personal records, or climbing one of the 7 summits. As you can see, we are not devoid of goals. Therefore, come work time, meaningful work to us would require having a road map towards attaining a specific goal. We’re up for the challenge for sure. So, don’t worry about us slacking. We’ll see you at the top!
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On the trails of Kilimanjaro, just like at the office, we have to follow protocols… for safety!
  1. Mountain fanatics are team players. We go in groups usually. So, we are forced to learn how to get along. After all, we need to survive the experience in one piece. Hence, we have to be a team player. You see, one must be in charge of navigation. Another is in charge of planning, and so on and so forth. Decisions are made along the way which prompt the group members to compromise for the sake of everyone’s welfare, as needed. We can’t always get our way if that leads to the demise of the entire group. We know the meaning of give and take. We’re ready to make sacrifices. You’d want us on your team when it comes to do or die mentality.
  2. Of course, there are exceptions to point #3 — the “soloists” who prefer to do mountain endeavors on their own. That’s okay too as there are benefits to that — this means he or she is independent, resourceful, and self-sufficient. Sounds like a winner, too, right? Whether we go solo or not in the wilderness, we’re all inherently resourceful, independent and self-sufficient. The conditioning starts with how to pack our backpacks to carrying our own maps and learning the trails. You can’t go wrong either way with hiring a soloist or a groupie type.
  3. Mountain lovers are resilient. You know how we all complain about stress? Well, in the wild, we tend to deal with critical issues with major consequences such as where to get water for drinking when you’re on the verge of dehydration, how to keep warm in below freezing conditions, how to deal with injury or illness, how to maneuver around boulders next to a cliff, how to deal with symptoms of altitude sickness above 15,000 feet, how to summit at 2 am in the morning with no sleep beforehand, or how to get ourselves unlost. Trust me. After we go through some of these ordeals, dealing with a difficult task is nothing. We’ll gladly say “yes” to the work at hand with a smile. It’s about putting things in perspective in our minds — surviving nature’s challenges makes us untouchable by the stressors in our daily work life.
  4. Mountain fanatics are positive thinkers. We climb peaks to see the best views. But even in the rain or snow, no matter how uncomfortable it may be, we have the tendency to see the beauty in the experience. That can’t be said as to the majority of the workforce. After conquering a peak, usually we are happy just to be alive, and despite the imperfections within our work world, we hardly care because there are so many other things to be grateful for. In my case, I was ecstatic to be back at my job and breathe in an enormous amount of oxygen again after Kilimanjaro. No nasty remarks by the opposing counsel or judge could possibly hurt me after a trek like that!
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Scrambling and avoiding a bad fall on the edges of Alta Via 2 in the Dolomites require serious focus.
  1. Mountain fanatics are highly determined, efficient and focused individuals. Again, this goes back to being goal-oriented. If we set the goal to climb a summit, there’s no plan B. The summit is the goal. In some instances, we spend tons of money to trek up mountains. Such is the case in my world where I typically go away for two to three weeks to Asia, Latina America, Europe or Africa. The trips come at a price tag. Hence, there’s no room for negotiation when it comes to accomplishing the goal set for the trip. Likewise, on the job, it’s easy to apply that same mentality. You don’t want any time or effort wasted. If I have to win a case at my job as a lawyer, I prepare the best trial strategy and give it my all. It’s all or nothing. It’s conquering the summit or nothing. With mountain lovers, you’ll get someone who will go all the way to the top with you, figuratively.
  2. Mountain fanatics are never boring. Why not? Because they have amazing adventures to tell. Just ask them. They have the most entertaining stories at your work party. I’m sure they will tell you how their weekend went in the wild with some stories you’ll never hear from anyone else. When it comes to the future, they’re imaginative and dreamy. Ask them about what they’re doing next weekend or their next vacation, and be amazed at the ideas of adventure they come up with. Sooner or later, you’d want to have them as friends, not just employees, and join their adventures. Or, you may even want to marry one!
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Ask a trekker where he’s been.  He may say Bromo in Indonesia.  Better yet, ask about the photos – and be amazed.
  1. Mountain fanatics are a source of inspiration. Their passion and adventurous spirit are contagious. Inspiration is essential for any organization or business to thrive, so much so, that it’s so common now for companies to hire outside speakers to motivate their employees. Some of these speakers happen to be mountain fanatics themselves. So, why not save your company the extra expense, and instead, host luncheons for your employees who happen to be mountain fanatics? We will do the talking for free to inspire one another. As an added bonus, we are used to basic camping or dehydrated meals. No need for fancy food, but if you do decide to feed us well, then know that you just earned points for loyalty. We won’t quit anytime soon and head to the mountains.
  2. Mountain fanatics are an energetic bunch. You want movers and shakers to advance your organization. You don’t want someone who’s complacent. With us, you get creativity and enthusiasm for new ideas. Along with that comes the drive and the passion that we are known to have as we pursue our love for the outdoors. An active employee inside and outside the office is a rare asset. We thrive on productivity and sense of accomplishment the same way we work hard to complete a two or three week trek in the middle of nowhere. Plus, with so much energy and exposure to nature, trekking keeps us young. Who doesn’t want a workforce that’s full of vitality? You get the wisdom that comes with age for the decision-making aspects of the job and the youthful energy that will get the tasks done.
  3. As a bonus, mountain fanatics are some of the healthiest employees you’ll ever have. We take care of ourselves physically and mentally. After all, mountaineering is a serious endeavor that involves a lot of risks. Hiring our kind would mean less people going on short-term or long-term medical leave and having shortage in staff. Sure, we will definitely use up the annual leave to the max but given the first 10 reasons above, I think this aspect can easily be overlooked. I never said we’re perfect…but close enough to it!

So, there you have it. Next time you conduct an interview, ask the person his or her hobbies. If we tell you we hike, trek, climb, backpack or play in the mountains, don’t roll those eyes or give us that confused look. Instead, get excited! Now that you know we’re dead serious about work as much as we’re crazy about the outdoors, you’ll be ready to hire the next mountain fanatic that comes your way.

One caveat: Don’t worry about the campfire smell. It fades away eventually. But, you better start getting used to it.

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Brown Gal Trekker is a nomad at heart who survives the mountains to inspire others to trek them.