The alpinist

More balance is needed in management than in ballet ...

When two mountain-climbers have to cross a ridge, the only possible way in which they can safeguard each other is this: if one of them sees that the other has fallen, he has to jump down the opposite face without a moment's hesitation if both of them are to have any chance of surviving. If he fails to do so, he will be pulled down with the other man. This is balance in senses that are also important for management.

How is it possible, in situations of the greatest emotion, to act in accordance with logical and effective rules of this kind, and what does it take to be able to do so? Here is another way in which thought can be given to the abilities and training of a good manager.

For Fredmund Malik, extreme alpinism is not just the most important opportunity he has of regularly enjoying purely physical exercise, of mapping out his own limits, of experiencing the beauty of nature or, studying how being roped together, not in the metaphorical sense of a hidden network, but in the real sense, operates in practice. Paradoxical though it may sound, he needs these things in order to keep his feet on the ground. Whether he is clambering up the vertical ice of frozen waterfalls, whether he is traveling down steep and narrow gullies on skis, or whether he is climbing up smooth rock-faces: none of these things does he do from the pleasure of taking risks. Nor does he do any of them without being aware of how dependent he is on a good mountain guide and instructor or without entrusting himself to such a person. What his mountain guides mean to him, that is what he wants to mean to his "pupils": safety.




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