A friend and Gratitude Ambassador recently introduced me to Second Mountain (a book by David Brooks) and I loved the book…and the metaphor that we all start out on our “first mountain” but at some point begin to travel up a “second mountain” in life – one that brings us more joy and satisfaction.
The first mountain, according to Brooks, is about oneself and about filling the ego. On our first mountain, our upbringing and school teach us to obtain the things we want in life: a job, money, possessions, and stability for our family. This first mountain is primarily “ego” focused and all about “me”. Some of use have scaled this mountain early in life and are now on a different journey. Some of us leave this mountain quite early in life.
Typically a shift from first mountain to second mountain is brought about by a change in job (boredom, unchallenging), life (e.g. children leave home) or even something traumatic (e.g a narrow escape from death or the loss of a loved one).
The “second mountain” is more about “us” or “we”. It’s about finding something that we want to contribute to and finding joy in giving our most valuable assets and gifts to a larger cause. David Brooks suggests four potential commitments that define a life of meaning and purpose: to a spouse and family, to a vocation, to a philosophy or faith, and to a community.
Second Mountain thinking resonates well with the mission and people surrounding The Gratitude Network. In some ways, all of us that are part of the Gratitude Network (whether a Coach, Fellow, Expert Advisor, Team Member or Ambassador) are climbing “the second mountain”– whether we are later in our careers or early on—at least as far as our work around Gratitude is concerned.
Minhaj Chowdhury, the founder of DrinkWell and a long time Gratitude Fellow, chose his second mountain in life at the ripe old age of 18, when his grandfather in Bangladesh became ill from water poisoning and passed away. Minhaj went on to study at John’s Hopkins, where he corralled numerous professors and scientists to aid him in creating a unique resin which extracts toxins from groundwater supply… he patented the technology, brought it to Bangladesh and India, where his systems are in use today impacting the lives of millions of children.
Holliday Goodreau, and her daughter, Olivia, founded the LivLyme Foundation, which promotes research and patient support for those with Lyme disease. In addition to providing financial assistance to families of children suffering from Lyme disease, the LivLyme Foundation funds studies for Lyme and tick-borne diseases research. The idea for Livelyme Foundation, which is certainly a “second mountain” effort for the mother-daughter team was inspired by Olivia’s personal struggles, at an early age, with Lyme disease.
Gratitude Fellows like Minhaj, Olivia, and Holliday truly inspire our team, because they are all “mountaineers” with a strong sense of purpose. Many of these entrepreneurs have even managed to amass a loyal following at the “base camp” of their mountain! All of them are scaling their second or third mountain.
So…what’s your purpose…and which mountain are you presently climbing?