He was not a politician, nor was he a CEO. The conqueror of Mount Everest was something even more rare by the subprime standards of present day: he was a leader.
He gazed upon heights where no man had dared raise his eyes before and scaled their tallest peak. He did it without a golden parachute. There was no fifty-page contract that promised to reward the prospect of failure and ensure a prince’s living for his retirement years. Unlike the corporate titans of today, success for him, and his trusted guide Tenzing Norgay, was a singular effort; there were no legions in far flung offices and plants around the world who did the hard work. And when he ascended the summit of Mount Everest in 1953, public relations departments weren’t required to put a spin on the triumph. There was no chimera to inflate the accomplishment as there so often is in the arenas of business and politics today; nobody cashed in big-time leaving others to discover later that the feat was illusionary, like Enron, or folly, like the current credit fantasy that has propelled so many into the stratosphere and then into the ground. In this quest, you will find no social luminary vying for 15 minutes of fame or boardroom baron whose misguided values would lead to downfall and jail time. Genuine success, like the character that produces it, speaks with a voice that needs neither translation nor amplification.
It is perhaps only the greatest of men and women who can confront danger, straddle risk and rise to the top, yet know that humility and an honest concern for others are among the most accomplishing of attributes by which to live and the defining hallmarks of the authentic individual.
He was not a politician, nor was he a CEO. Sir Edmund Hillary, who died today at the age of 88, was something even more rare by the subprime standards of present day: he was a leader.