Recently, I took a much-needed vacation to Zion National Park in Utah. At the time we planned the trip, we had no intention of tackling one of the park’s crown jewels, the Angels Landing trail. We had read about it (strenuous, not for the faint of heart), heard about it (“I was never so scared” and “unlike anything else I have ever done”), and decided to embrace being chicken, play it safe, and stick to more moderate hiking. However, about two weeks prior to the trip, I got the bright idea that we should do the hike and use it as a metaphor for life. Needless to say, this brought sideways glances and “you’ve got to be kidding” looks from my partner.

Let me start by saying that Angels Landing is not Mt. Everest, and plenty of people hike it each year. That being said, however, it is one of the most challenging and unique pure hiking experiences in America’s national parks. Angels Landing is a 6000-plus-foot peak. In order to get to the top, you must hike 2.5 miles one way to the top and climb 1,500 vertical feet. What makes it special is the last half mile, which rises 500 feet on what seems to be a razor’s edge on the back side of the peak. It involves a lot of rock scrambling, the use of chains driven into the rock, and navigating a path that is as narrow as three feet wide (go ahead, measure that out now), with a 2,000-foot sheer drop on each side. That is a lot of air and a long way down. Even the hiking guides and signs state that this trail is not for the faint of heart, anyone with vertigo, or a fear of heights. Considering that I cling to the walls of 100-foot lighthouses, sob on Ferris wheels, and death grip the lap bar on the calm sky rides in amusement parks, you would wonder what makes me want to do this.

To cut to the happy ending, we made it. It was tiring and heart stopping at times, but we got to the top and actually had a fun time doing it. It was a wonderful exercise in staying present in the moment and letting everything else just melt away. Coming back down gave me a new perspective on what it means to stay balanced, keep your center of gravity low, and focus on where you want to go (and not the vast amount of air space and hang time just waiting for a wrong move).

What I learned on this little journey is that sometimes you just have to get very clear on what success means to you, set your sights on the top, and move up and onward in spite of the fear. While my whole “metaphor for life” crusade was originally more a motivating mantra than anything else, I discovered 10 key success factors for life and business amid my journey up and down the mountain.


While we decided last minute to hike this trail, we would not have had a prayer of hope had we not already spent many months maintaining excellent physical conditioning. A little due diligence, foresight, and planning gives any endeavor a higher probability of success.


If you do not know where you are going, how will you know when you get there? In this case we had a clearly defined path and summit, which made this piece of the puzzle very easy. Do you have a clear vision of what you want your life or business to be about? If you do not, how will you know if you are heading in the right direction?

Judgment and Common Sense

The world is an unpredictable place. The weather is even more unpredictable, especially in the canyons. En route to the summit, we had to pass through Refrigerator Canyon, a small slot canyon. Part way through, we heard a large crack of thunder reverberate all around us. We stopped and wondered if it would end our summit because in the desert the flooding happens in a flash, and exposed cliffs pose extreme lightning danger. At that moment, and every step along the narrow path, we had to use our judgment to assess the situation and risk. How do you periodically assess the steps along the path within your life and business?

Perspective and Focus

There is nothing like standing in a canyon between massive cliffs or being atop one of them to gain a little perspective. Grasping the bigger picture is crucial. Just as critical is the perspective you bring to any situation. Both can make or break your efforts. Focused vision is required to tap into a laser-like focus, removing all distractions from your attention and staying in alignment with your goal. Do you have an idea of your big picture, and are you focused on the goal? Or are you doing today the same thing you did yesterday just because it is what you did yesterday?


On the edge of 2,000-foot drop-offs is no place for two left feet or a klutz; the margin for error is tiny. Balance is important, physically and emotionally. The ability to maintain an inner calm and a faith in a higher power, despite ups and downs, is critical to personal mastery.


On the mountain it meant being able to stretch and contort our bodies to fit the allotted spaces. At times I simply shouted to my partner, who has shorter legs than me, “Just grow, will you!?” In life and business, flexibility is needed to go with the flow and respond to the constant changes and challenges in today’s environment.


It takes a lot of inner strength to achieve a goal. In this case it took physical strength as well. Keeping yourself strong through attention and self-care on all levels—body, mind, and spirit—will provide you a strong foundation to build the life and business of your wildest dreams.


A deep well of energy and resources to tap into is important for the long haul. Treat your life and business like you would a distance run. Pace yourself, take breaks along the way, and remember to stop and refuel.


Keep at it, putting one foot in front of the other. At times on the hike, fatigue would set it, muscles would burn, or fear would take over. Our lives are not defined by any given moment. Being able to make consistent, empowering choices over time is what separates success from failure.

Support System

The people, places, and things in our lives form the environment and support system so vital to keeping us alive and well. On our hike it meant food, water, layers of clothing, and connecting with other, fellow hikers. It looks a lot like that in real life as well in that we need to meet both our physical and emotional needs. The relationships we cultivate with ourselves and others, whether business or personal, create the ultimate supporting structure upon which we build our dreams.

If you incorporate these 10 key success factors into your life one small step at a time, you can rest assured that the faraway summits of your wildest dreams will get closer with each passing day. Feel the fear and do it anyway.

** This article is one of 101 great articles that were published in 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life. To get complete details on “101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life”, visit

Author's Bio: 

Paula Gregorowicz, owner of The Paula G Company, partners with women who are sick and tired of spending their days doing work they do not enjoy to help them blow the lid off their wildest dreams. You can learn more and subscribe to the free e-zine “Beyond the Daily Grind” at