One of our founders, Harry McPike, recently accomplished a childhood dream: he climbed to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa. Happy to share his experience with TGS students, Harry also expressed his views on setting personal goals and ultimately achieving success.
Climbing Kilimanjaro is a significant challenge, requiring a great deal of preparation and planning. Harry began a regimen of physical training to build his endurance. Harry is diabetic, which proved to be an obstacle to reaching his goal – initially the trekking company would not accept him. But Harry would not give up: “I had to prove first that I was up to the challenge, and I had to find a doctor that was willing to climb the mountain with me,” he said. Ultimately, the company obliged.
The journey took several days and was both physically and mentally exhausting. But Harry never even considered turning back. “I never felt like giving up. Once I make a decision to achieve a goal, I go for it. Also I don’t like failure, and this helped me persevere.”
Harry reached the summit on 23 October 2010.
Harry finds great inspiration in taking on new personal challenges, which is one of the reasons he decided to make the climb. He is highly self-motivated: “I enjoy doing anything unique and original – I have a competitive nature. I believe that in order to truly add to ‘quality of life’ one must step outside the box of normal thinking. Being unique in one’s goals can be one of life’s great rewards.” These principles are clearly reflected in the McPikes’ vision for TGS as our faculty and students explore the world and break new ground in education.
Harry’s advice for embarking on a major challenge is to “prepare yourself fully, understand all the requirements of the journey, evaluate the risks versus the success, and once you decide to embark, stay committed.”
While dedication and preparation are vital to success, Harry believes that chance plays a role as well. “I have worked hard, I have had a bit of luck, and I have always delayed the gratification in what I achieve.” For Harry, finding success is a lifelong pursuit. “Once I achieve a goal in my life, I re-set the parameters of my success, by continually reinvesting in what interests me…success is a long term view.” And his advice to others on defining your own personal success? “Avoid being influenced in your decisions for the wrong reasons, whether that is a cultural influence or social influence. Be true to what you believe in and set your goals according to your criteria — not someone else’s.”
Harry’s beliefs, advice, and his trek apply to goals well beyond climbing a mountain – we hope that his story motivates our students. And there’s no rest for Harry; he is already looking ahead to his next challenge. “There is a unique location on the Colorado River that offers a very intense river rafting experience, while capturing all the beauty and adventure of the Grand Canyon. I think I would like to try this soon.”