Following the launch of his latest book, K2: The Tragedy and the Triumph, adventurer and business coach Adrian Hayes talks to Gulf Business about how his perilous ascent of the world’s most dangerous mountain can provide lessons for those looking to excel in the corporate world
A brief look at his biography starts to explain why. Titles including adventurer, author, speaker, record breaker, documentary presenter, business coach, consultant and campaigner only scratch the surface of the former army officer and special forces soldier’s activities and achievements.
But it is his new book and the lessons therein that shape our discussion in the aftermath of its launch on the final day of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature – an event that confirmed to Hayes that the book was well worth writing, despite some initial concerns.
“It went very well – I had many people tell me that they were in tears at some things,” he says.
“It was never my intention to write a book on this journey. I really thought that there wasn’t a market any more for mountaineering books or adventure books, because the simple fact is that most of the ‘firsts’ have been done.
“But I was convinced that the story was powerful enough, and what really made me want to write this book was that it was not just a mountaineering book – not just about climbing.
“I wanted to bring right from the start some elements of the book I was hoping to write next – a book about team development and leadership development. I wanted to bring elements of that book into it, as well as a third element – a very personal story that was so intrinsically involved that is became impossible not to bring it in altogether.”
And as the author explains, when the first drafts of the book started to take form, the true essence of the work started to reveal itself.
“It was only when I actually started writing this book at the start of January 2017 that some of the lessons all came out. It became quite a powerful experience – you get the creative juices going and that second part of the book, and the third part, came to the fore.
“The first part of the book – the story – was quite simple; there was a tragedy and a triumph. But I really wanted to get more in there – a sort of The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari or The Alchemist, which are both really parables with lots of lessons in them. I’ve got this true story with a lot of lessons in it for everyone attempting to conquer their own mountain.”
The book, published by Motivate Publishing, combines the three elements mentioned by Hayes in a gripping and thought-provoking narrative.
And rather than just focusing on the many things that he learned on the perilous slopes of K2 – the deadliest and second highest mountain the world – Hayes draws on a two decade journey of personal development to explain how he was able to make “big things happen”.
“There are many motivational speakers out there who have done big adventure things and they will say what they did on the mountain, ocean, space, or jungle, and how businesses can use that. Yes, that’s an important part, but where I like to distinguish myself is the opposite: how I took the models, the concepts, the lessons, the tools, the techniques, the mantras and the quotes to make my big things happen.
“I first got into the world of personal development when I did an MBA after I left the army, which was about 22 years ago. And I’ve been studying, learning, reading, qualifying, training, teaching, living and breathing this whole world for a good 15 years.”
So what are the things that Hayes took into his two expeditions to K2, and what did he take out of them?
The list is long, but on both counts he references a Google survey about the key skills people need today and in the future.
“Number one in the survey is problem solving, number two is teamwork, number three is communication,” he says.
“I think number four is critical thinking and number five is leadership skills. These are the sort of skills that you put into an expedition, and they’re also the skills you get out of a big trip like climbing K2.”
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