Mount Everest was the last place I thought I’d go during the third annual leadership conference.

Even with a title of “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!,” I thought the conference held Feb. 9 would be just like the last two years I attended; we’d focus on leadership skills, define them and listen to instructional speeches. These talks about how to be tolerant and accepting of others to be a better leader filled our day.

This year was different.

Participants of the conference attended three workshops of their choosing throughout the day.

I walked into a room in Price and sat down in front of an ice pick, which had clearly been used on a mountain or two. The workshop was fittingly titled, “Leadership Lessons Learned Through Mountaineering.”

Interim Director of Outback Phil Friesen greeted around 10 of us by telling us we were about to embark on a journey to Everest. He played us a clip of the Discovery Channel’s reality television show, “Everest: Beyond the Limit” and we were immersed.

After being introduced to the characters in the show, Friesen paused the show and turned to us to ask, “So, what would the criteria for your team be?”

Our workshop collectively complied a list of different leadership attributes we would want our teammates to have climbing Everest with us. Friesen challenged us to think further about what personality types would be beneficial to the group as a whole.

Our workshops criteria decided that our teammates had to have endurance, good communication skills, a good attitude, experience in climbing, be team oriented, open minded, adaptable and committed to climb with us. We weren’t joking around especially after Friesen told us one in three climbers die trying to dominate the mountain. Our team’s skills became life or death.

The rest of the day’s workshops varied from grant writing basics, how to be a party planner, developing and empowering culturally consciousness leaders to a workshop titled, “Stupid Things People Say.”

While free breakfast, lunch and a snack may have initially gotten me to the undergraduate leadership conference, I learned what kind of people would make the ideal team to climb Everest. And while I may never climb Everest, the skills I learned have given me insight to wherever I’ll go.


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