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Is Mental Toughness Really A Mountain top Experience?

When I lived in Colorado, I met Russ, who was half-way to hiking all of the 14ers.

A 14er is any mountain top above 14,000 feet. There are 54 of them in Colorado. Some of these hikes are difficult, while others are fairly simple.

The mountaintop experience in Colorado is the best! The feeling of success, the reward of the journey, security, peace, serenity, and the view!

Russ would eventually have 54 of these.

We all want the mountain top experience. 

The tree line in Colorado is about 12,000 feet. Close to the tree line lives the oldest known species of tree, the Bristlecone Pine Tree. Some of these trees are over 5,000 years old, which means they were around when Julius Caesar was alive.

This small tree is indeed tough because it survives in the worst type of environment.  However, the mountain top is not where growth takes place.  This specific bristlecone pine tree is decades old. Due to its environment, it’s growth takes centuries to full maturity.

Check out our post- The PROCESS Is MORE IMPORTANT Than The PRODUCT

Growth and Mental Toughness is not born at the mountaintop, it’s born out of the valleys.

The mountain top experience is temporary and we will spend more time hiking the actual mountain rather than taking pictures at the top.  Such is life. We will lose way more than we will ever win.

Only during the valleys in life, the tough times, the struggle, and the journey is where real growth happens.  It is no fun at all going through the hardships, just as hanging out in the valley the entire hike isn’t much fun either.

But it is necessary. So, Is Mental Toughness Born elsewhere? 

No Valley = No Mountain top Experience.

An experiment in the 1980’s created a bio-dome in the desert where humans could live. Everything actually went great, except when the trees inside the controlled climate bio-dome reached a certain height, they toppled over. What scientists could not account for was the lack of wind.

The wind is what creates strong roots, so that trees can continue to grow.

No wind =  No growth.

If you want to live on the mountaintop, your growth will be small.

If you relish in the valleys,  you’ll grow, and still, enjoy the mountaintop when you arrive.


Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out the most recent books on Mental Toughness