“King of the Hill” vs. “Mountain Climbers”

I recently spent time with a bunch of young nieces and nephews. I noticed how jealous they become of one another if one of the other kids receives a gift or more attention. They vie for attention to take it from the other kid. The oldest may try to take the toy away from the younger one; the younger one may cry. It reminded me of one of my life philosophies. I think there are really two types of people in this world: “King of the Hill” people and “Mountain Climbers.”

You all remember the game King of the Hill as a kid? King of the Hill is a game and the object is to stay on top of a hill or mound as the “King of the Hill.”  Other players attempt to knock the current King off the hill and take his place as the new King of the Hill. In this game, everyone is out for themselves; they may band together to get the current King, but will turn on each other right away afterwards. Everyone is an enemy. For you to win, everyone else must lose. At the end of the game, you really haven’t gone very far. 

Mountain climbing is very different. You’re achieving a much greater height than anyone in King of the Hill will ever reach. You must work together. One of you will be higher than the other at any given time, but it does not matter. You will secure the rope and help your partner climb above you, they will do the same. For you to achieve the goal, you both must win. You want the best partners possible. You can scale amazing heights by working together.

Most people live their lives as “King of the Hill” people. They get mad if someone else gets attention, a promotion, or a nicer car or house. They feel it makes them look bad that someone else does “better” than them. They’re happy when a friend gets a divorce or has financial problems. They’ll gossip to make another person look bad. It’s all based on Envy (one of the Evil E’s). Someone described it to me as “getting to the top of a ladder by chopping it down.”

I was very lucky growing up. I have a brother, who is four years younger than me and very talented in many areas. He could spell better than I could when he was in first grade. He could shoot hoops and throw a football better than me.  I’d root for him, practice with him, and be ecstatic when he did well. Do not get me wrong, I competed with him and I wanted to be better, but I never held him back or cut him down. In fact, it was the exact opposite. I pushed him to be better and used that to inspire me to be better. His success does nothing to diminish what I achieve.

I have tried to roll that philosophy into my life. This is what Rising’s Core Value, “Achieve as a Team,” is all about. We want mountain climbers in our organization. I try to surround myself with people who are successful and want the same for me.  We open our doors for business people to come in and see what we are doing. We’ve had more than 50 companies tour our operations, many of whom are not even from the industry. Hopefully they learn something. Sometimes what we teach them helps them grow, maybe even faster than us for a while. Great!

Every week I try to do something for someone without asking for anything in return. It’s just good karma.  If you’re surrounded by good people — that’s the key to this working — sometime in the future, they may see an opportunity that’s good for you. So you help each other climb the mountain of life together.