2007 will be the year of The Brotherhood of the Rope in this blog. This also includes Sisterhood, or simply, The People of the Rope. I will use the term Brotherhood of the Rope to acknowledge Sir Edmund Hillary’s use of the term in 2006.
The Brotherhood of the Rope refers to the psychological, social, and spiritual connection that mountain climbers share. At times, climbers are physically knotted together for safe passage.
In 2006 there were 2 powerful incidents during the spring climbs on Mount Everest. One climber after reaching the summit, ran into trouble after his summit. The next day 40 or more climbers trekked by him to summit the peak without stopping to rescue him. A week or so later another climber, in a similar situation, was rescued by 3 climbers (Mazur, Brash and Osborne) who aborted their summit attempt to assist the climber in need.
Sir Edmund Hillary was angry that 40 climbers had not lived the brotherhood, instead choosing to achieve their own summit.
Here is a tidbit from a powerful Everest News article: Webster, like Hillary, said mountaineering has always consisted of a “brotherhood of the rope.” That brotherhood, he adds, would see climbers go out of their way to help other climbers, and scuttle summit attempts to mount rescues. It’s because of that tradition that Sharp’s death – and the lack of help from other climbers – has become so controversial.
As leaders we are seldom, if ever, faced with this magnitude of a decision between task and relationship. The decision was also made in thin air as the body, mind, emotions, and spirit are extremely stressed. I think it is important to summit and it is important to help others.
The Brotherhood of the Rope symbolizes the assistance we received from others in achieving our personal summits and our connections and debt to others as we travel together. It is our willingness as leaders to recognize and assist others — having a wide angle view rather than blinders only for results or personal peak performance.
During 2007, I will write more about The Brotherhood of the Rope. I will use stories and examples to move the term from a concept to an active leadership approach regardless of your location — near a mountain peak or raising your head above a cubicle wall.
- Click here if you would like to read more about Mount Everest.
- Click here if you would like to read more about the situation involving the Brotherhood of the Rope.
- Reflection resolution: How strong are the “ropes” connecting you to the people you lead and to other people inside and outside your organization? How will you strengthen those ropes for 2007?