Starting At The Bottom - The Infinite Ascent

There is a pyramid of value traits I sometimes address when training a staff. I call it The Infinite Ascent. 

When we work with others in a person-to-person live dynamic, there are certain things that our participants (audience, students, trainees, etc.) want from us, consciously or not. The Infinite Ascent attempts to distill a variety of those desires down to three categories.

Picture a mountain ascending high in front of you. It is divided into three natural levels. The bottom level is made up of green trees. The middle level is gray rock. The upper level is white snow. And above that you cannot see, because the peak of the mountain disappears into the clouds. 



The tree level at the bottom of the mountain is labeled willingness. This is the base level trait that must be present in our behavior for all purposeful growth, improvement, and results. To take on anything hard or difficult we need the effort. To work through a challenge or stress of doing something new at work or in our communication we have to be willing to try, to fail, to experiment, to be dogged.

The mid level of rock is labeled resonance. People who display high resonance are able to connect with others and form positive relationships. Resonance is different than charisma. Charisma draws people into us by how we look, sound, and move, but charisma is not necessary to make friendships or meaningful connections, and it certainly does not dictate lasting relationships (Hello, Hollywood).

Resonant people are active in their intention to respect others, regardless of position, title, or other inconsequentialities to being human. When resonant people listen, they do it as a full-on 100% effort, not as a side task amongst other 'more important' things or interruptions. Resonance is empathetic and friendly.

The upper level of snow in our mountain model is labeled skill. Skill here is defined as the tactical stuff we know and do. Skill provides us with credibility and results and they are really important, but sometimes they are not important at all to those people to whom we mean the most. Are your fiends interested in you for your work skills? Family going to leave you due to your lack of tactical knowledge? Probably not so much.

The thing about mountains is that when climbing we expect it to eventually stop. But this one doesn't. (Thus the "Infinite" part, eh? eh?) Somewhere within the cloud covering, where its peak would typically be, there is only more mountain. The metaphor is of course that we must always be mindful of our eternal capacity for willingness, our ability to resonate with others, and our never-ending improvement of our skills.