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Notes- On the Edge by Alison Levine

On the Edge by Alison Levine


-Weather is out of our control…but what we can control is our attitude in dealing with it.

-Allison, 8 years after not being able to reach the summit of Everest due to a storm, was put in the same position with yet again another storm. This wasn’t going to stop her.

-Our reaction is the moment is a result of how we have prepared for that moment.

-Leadership is the responsibility of everyone! As part of the team, it’s your responsibility to positively help move the team towards the goals.

-Alison Bio:

-Captain of the first ever women’s team to climb Everest

-Climbed the highest peak on every continent

-Skied to both the North and South Pole

-Leadership consultant to some off the most prominent politicians, business leaders, and athletes

Ch.1) Hardcore Preparation:

-There is no worse feeling than having failed not because of poor technique, poor judgment, honest mistake…. But because of a lack of preparation.

-To be successful you must be fully prepared in ALL aspects (physical, mental, tactical)

-A leader prepares everyone to be successful by helping them hone the skills needed, continually empowering them with greater responsibility, and making them be accountable for fulfilling their duties… it should be a never ending process for a leader to improve the leadership of others

-If a leader is unable to physically lead, others need to be prepared and able to step up

-A great leader lets others lead!

Ch.2) Go Back Jack, Do It Again

-When climbing Everest, climbers have to make several ascensions and dissensions between base camp, camp 1, camp 2, camp 3, and the summit. They have to go and down and up and down continual for their body to acclimatize to the altitude physiologically

-It can be incredibly draining physically and mentally to have to go backwards down the mountain, especially if you fail to reach your destined camp

-Here mountain climbing symbolizes life because the journey to being successful isn’t just a straight upward… you have to go back to go forward!... progress isn’t always going forward.

-Even though you might be physically or statically or apparently moving away from your goal, you can still be making progress.

-Mental trick is to embrace this and realize you strengthening the foundation of your effort

-There is incredible value going back to the starting point (base camp) in order to regroup, re-strategize, reorganize and refocus

Ch.3) Choosing Your Team- Experience, Expertise and Ego

-Coach K (Duke) explains he wants “performance ego” and “team ego”:

-“Performance Ego”- You know your good, so act like your good. Healthy confidence that doesn’t become selfishness. You want team players to feel like they are talented and special… just not more important than the team. It is easier to reign in confidence than it is to build it up.

-“Team Ego”- having a group that wants the best for everyone. Sincere unselfishness. Everyone feels sincere pride for all representing the same thing. Not individual pride. It’s an ego that you feel when you’re super proud to be part of the team.

-Conflicts are only unhealthy if they never get solved… conflicts are needed to help you grow stronger

-Majority of the time open, honest and fairly heard communication solves conflict

-You are only a group until everyone on the team cares about all others more than they care about themselves… until that point it is a group, not a team.

-If try to win by yourself, you will end up celebrating by yourself

Ch.4) Friends in High Places- Get Your Network On

-If you want to be better at your job/role, you need a mentor who has more experience, knowledge, and skill than you. Working with people that are better than you is the best way to make yourself better.

-It is critical to network at every stage of your career.

-You never know who can help you out and who it helps to know. The more people you know and have connections with, the more potential support you have.

-You are going to want to have built a strong relationship with someone before you need help from them. If you haven’t made that sincere connection prior to needing help then its too late.

- Climbing is a team sport because it involves climbers, logistic people, sherpas for climbing, rescue people, and outsider advice. Without having all these connections you can’t climb the mountain.

-Alison was able to get her Ford Sponsorship from a college friend and found all her climbing partners through her friends in the climbing community.

Ch. 5.) Complacency Kills, Move Ahead

-It’s the leader’s responsibility to be ready to change and adapt to what the environment needs.

-Complacency skyrockets when things go well. A leader needs to be wary of this. Don’t allow people to become too cozy. Stir the pot and keep people on edge.

-It’s the leader’s responsibility to lookout and help others who are coasting and have become complacent. A poor state of mind or relaxedness with one player effects the whole team.

-Often times, experienced climbers feel too confident to climb with a harness (complacent). They’ve gotten away with it for 50 climbs so what’s the 51st climb matter? But that is exactly the time you fall and die.

-This complacency has now badly affected the whole team… psychological shocked, morally devastated, spirits low, nervous about the next climb, etc.

-Complacency kills businesses, sports teams, and climbers too.

-A good leader knows when to retreat too. People might become complacent with the way the group has been moving forward and for a while they have gotten what they wanted/success. But a good leader can foresee things not working out and having the group pull out, even if it really angers others.

Ch.6) Coming Up Short, Making the Most of Weakness

-The leader helps try to strengthen the weak link because after all, your team is only as strong as your weakest player

-A great leader will still find important value from the weak link and provide them a role where they can still contribute

-This skill/value of the weak link or way they contribute is usually unexpected

-A great leader does whatever he/she has to do to make everyone feel like they are valuable contributors

-A great leader doesn’t just expect the weak link to eventually overcome their troubles… instead they tirelessly help them and gets creative with ways for improvement. This usually involves leveraging hidden talents.

Ch.7) Bring it! You need you’re A game and then Some

-“I didn’t know any better” excuse doesn’t work for leaders… you are always expected to have done research and be prepared

-If you are thinking you can afford to not bring something, think instead can I win without it?

-Your competitors invest in the best resources, so you need to as well

-No excuse for not being prepared and not having the necessary resources

Ch.8) Your not special… building trust and loyalty

-Leaders don’t act like they are special… Zuckerberg sits smack in the middle of all his employees and eats side by side with them at lunch. He doesn’t expect any special treatment

-Leaders need to send the message: we are all in this equally together

-CEO’s who obsess with excess always fail… they send the message that they are special or above their other employees

-A leader needs to be able to endure anything they are asked to endure … they want to know you are with them and not just with them in spirit

-Leaders on climbing expeditions do the following: carry heavier backpack loads up the mountain, cook the meals for the group, makes sure everyone eats before they eat themselves, checks the emotional state of all the climbers

-Always take care of your people first!

-A title simply doesn’t bring you trust and respect… it is always earned with actions!

-If you are a leader, ask: could I walk a mile in my follower’s shoes?

Ch.9) Ignore the rules. Do the right thing always

-Rules should be thought of a guiding principles and not something to be followed blindly

-After a disaster, there is no worse leadership then a lack of communication and failed promises

-Guiding principles help influence employees actions and decisions so that an individual decision will benefit the group. A rule instead asks people to follow blindly and doesn’t allow them to make their own smart decisions.

-One guiding principles common among successful companies is: take care of the customer, even if it means trimming short term profits

-There will always be situations where you have to break the rules… rigidity is just as dangerous as complacency because it halts progress

Ch.10) Your Three Words: What’s your mantra?

-As a leader, it’s not about you, it’s about the people around you who your accountable for

- Her mantra: I “always come through”

-When your leader shows that they are willing to make great sacrifices, you are much more willing to make great sacrifices for them in return

-People can easily tell what is important to you by your actions… live by your mantra!

-Demonstrate your mantra on a daily basis. Every leadership opportunity is a chance to leave people with an accurate impression of who you are.

Ch.11) Embracing Failure: Own it and come back with vengeance

-The journey is what is special/rewarding not the result

-Did you take the lessons, failures, setbacks, and challenges away with you and make you better? Or did you stop your journey because you got tired of failing?

-A failure is quality experience! It makes you wiser, more prepared, mentally tougher for the future. Those are all positives.

-A failure is okay… but failure to learn from a failure is inexcusable.

Ch.12) Afterward

-The journey is where we find insight

-It is just as much about how we go about achieving our goals as it is about reaching them

-Better leaders make a better world

-Never let failure discourage you


I am a youth and college soccer coach who is passionate about making coaching my career and helping assist players in their development. I am always trying to learn from the game and always willing to share with others the insights I have made from the game. If you have coaching tips or materials you would like to share, just contact me.

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