Growing up we all have hopes and dreams. Some of us have a personal TRUE NORTH STAR, a vision about what to achieve in personal and/or professional life. Some of those stick and some do not. In 6th grade I made a newspaper story about my future self and the title was «F-16 pilot», professional soccer player, and mom- How does Missy Lee do it all? I am not an F-16 pilot or a professional soccer player. I am very lucky to be a mother and a CEO of a successful aviation business in Alaska, today.
Another TRUE NORTH STAR JOURNEY started at the age of 12 years old. I remember the exact moment this dream began. I was flying on a scenic flight (my father Don Lee was a well known bush pilot in Alaska) around the summit of Denali, North America’s highest peak.
I saw climbers, like little ants, climbing the mountain. It was that moment, that I made a Flight Plan (Corepoint 1 #clearedtoland Success Principle) and decided I wanted to do what these brave, adventurous, resilient mountaineers were doing: Climb to the summit of Mount Denali!
This dream was one that stuck with me and I started to focus on this horizon (Corepoint 6 #clearedtoland Success Principle). I thought about this for years. It was on every «bucket list» I have created (and there have been many iterations of this!).
There were many times I questioned if this goal was even possible.
Note: This is normal, when you dream big dreams! If you are wondering, if your goal is out of reach, this is good. This means that you are setting your sights high and far out of your comfort zone.
In the summer of 2005, at 20 years old, I finally reached the summit of Denali. I was on this mountain for 23 days. It was the hardest thing I have ever done.
Our dream and/or vision, our True North Star, is in us for a reason. Sometimes we may not know the reason until well after the event itself is far passed. 17 years later I am here being a pilot myself and the owner of a flight business in Alaska, which fulfills dreams of pilots from all over the world writing a blog about this climb and that is something I could have never predicted. But it gave me the strength to overcome many obstacles later in life and to be CEO of a very challenging business today.
Following this True North Star- my vision, my childhood dream, my bucket list item, had many significant impacts on my life. First, it showed me what I was made of.
50% of climbers do not reach the summit, most climbers are men, and very few are so young. It was empowering to know that I did something so difficult. There was one particular storm that was 30 MPH winds and -20*F. This experience made me dig deeper into my soul than anything else ever could. My body wanted to stop before the day even began. Especially after day 7 at 17’200 feet. Second, it made me believe that if I could do this, I could do anything. For this reason and this reason only- it was worth it. Expecting the unexpected (Corepoint 3 #clearedtoland Success Principle) is part of my thinking today, as an entrepreneur but also as a pilot.
Lastly, the ascent of Denali showed me that dreams are in us for a reason. We are all on a journey and this journey is ours alone. Not everyone will understand your journey. One of my best friends told me that there is no way I could summit Denali. My dad showed me a video of him flying dead climbers off the mountain. These pictures stuck to my head, they raised great respect but they did not scare me.
These people love me and care for me- they were coming from a good place, but that place was fear. I am thankful for this because I love it when people tell me I can’t do something. I LOVE it, because it makes me even stronger. As pilots we always take off against the wind and we climb even better.
Of all the challenging times within those 23 days the most desperate was being patient at the last camp at 17‘200 feet. We waited there for 7 days. The wind was so fierce that had we attempted the summit, we probably would have been blown off the mountain. We were running out of food and if the weather had not cleared up when it did, we would have had to turn around. I knew that I did not come that far to not accomplish the goal I set out to. I was desperate because I would have had unfinished business and I did not want to climb the mountain a second time! I made it through by playing a lot of gin rummy and other card games, reading a book for the third time, and trying to stay positive despite the odds not being in our favor. The sacrifice was worth it. On June 20, 2005 we reached the summit of America’s highest peak. My uncle had been to the summit many times, but this one was different. Each team member shed tears of joy and relief. I distinctly remember the salty drops freezing to my face.
As I reflect on this experience, I think the most relevant concept related to the #clearedtoland Success Principle are these points: Make a Flight Plan and Focus on your Horizon. Whatever your viewpoint on the horizon, your TRUE NORTH STAR might be, stick to it. Do not let weather, delays, people, or situations stop you from reaching your goal. You must make a decision and have the determination and grit to stay true to that choice. And of course: Always expect the unexpected.
A few lessons taken out of this mountaineering journey:
Make a Flight Plan and don’t be afraid to start with the first step. Sometimes you don’t have to know all the details HOW you are going to reach your goal when you start making plans.
- Many people give up on their dreams before they start because they don’t know where to start on moving toward their dreams.
- I had no idea how I would ever reach this goal. At 12 years old, I wanted to be the youngest person to ever summit. At the time, my family did not have the money to pay for me to move toward this endeavor, nor did they support their child doing something so dangerous.
- I did not know how I was ever going to climb Denali- it was such a big challenge and I was a poor college student at the time. Doors will open when you dare to dream.
Focus on your Horizon and dream big dreams!
- All of us have hopes and dreams – some stick and some do not. If a dream has stuck with you for many years, find a way to follow that. It is there for a reason.
- Reach for those stars, think outside the box, explore the unexplored.
Expect the unexpected and never give up.
- When people say: «How did you do this?» The answer is pure, rugged, unshakable grit and determination. This happens naturally when you are following your True North Star- it is within you and that resilience follows.
Your True North Star is there for a reason.
- Believe in yourself.
- Do not discount your random ideas, «strange» goals, or big dreams – they are part of your journey.
Everything you need to reach your goals is already within you.
- We often search for validation of our goals. Validation will easily come for «normal» goals that fit within a cultures’ ideals. Validation is much harder if your goals do not align with the goals of your family, friends, or culture.
- You must have a deep understanding that you can accomplish anything regardless of what the outside world thinks.
- We look for ways to reach our goals- we read books, we look for mentors, we find someone who has done what we want to do (all of these are great strategies), however, everything you need is already within you.
You will have the resilience, the trust, the power, the strength to reach your personal TRUE NORTH STAR!
Today – beeing a former college professor and now owner and CEO of Alaska Floats and Skis – I empower people from all over the world to extend their skills and to follow their TRUE NORTH STAR, their vision.
At Alaska Floats and Skis we support pilots to get out of their comfort zone, extend their knowledge and reach their goals. It makes me very happy to empower people from all over the world to make their dreams come true here in the wilderness of Alaska.
If you want to learn more about #clearedtoland – the keynotes, workshops and our consulting and coaching, please contact us via our website, or at email@example.com.
We look forward to planning the journey with you.
By the way: We are collecting stories of successful True North Star Journeys and would like to share them later to motivate others to also realize their True North Star as an individual, as a team and as an organization.
You can send them to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org