Yes, my fellow nice girls. You read that right. Believe it or not, I've been thinking about the connection between Michael Vick and the success of nice girls worldwide for a few weeks now. What's the correlation? Well, it has something to do with mountains, money, and morals.
Whether you follow sports or not, the roller-coaster ride that is Michael Vick’s career has been falling and rising since he hit the Atlanta Falcons field early in his career.
The most jolting aspect of his rise to notoriety? Just two years ago he was released from jail on dog-fighting charges, and now he just signed a $100 million dollar 6-year contract with the Philadelphia Eagles- $40 million of which is guaranteed.
So what does this have to do with today’s woman? Well, it poses a question that seems to contradict my methodology for life: do nice girls/guys finish last? While, the concept isn’t new, it is something that seems to radiate throughout the ages- especially in the wake of seemingly corrupt individuals succeeding.
As women in today’s professional climate we have several choices to make on a daily basis. Aside from multitasking, climbing corporate ladders, and somehow carving out some time for ourselves to relax- we are faced with moral and ethical decisions every day. Depending on where you benchmark your success, either dollar signs or peace signs- the nice girl is sometimes left in the stiletto dust of her more outspoken and less ethical counterpart. Does this make her any less successful? And if so, is the finish line the most important destination- or perhaps could the mile markers in-between be the real measures of her success?
Mt. Kilimanjaro may be where we find the answer.
Kilimanjaro is the world’s tallest free-standing mountain at 19,340 feet. There is not one way up this mountain. Like most climbs, there are many different routes depending on what suits your climbing style best. When climbing Kilimanjaro you have 6 different routes to choose from. The Mount Kilimanjaro Climbing Guide describes each like this:
The Marangu Route: the only Kilimanjaro climb route that offers hut accommodation.
The Machame Route: the most popular climbing route up Kilimanjaro.
The Rongai Route: the easiest climb route on Kilimanjaro.
The Umbwe Route: the most difficult and demanding climb route on Kilimanjaro, and the most spectacular.
I don’t claim to be a climber, but what stands out most to me in these route descriptions is that the easiest and the most popular routes are simply known for being so. The most comfortable route offer huts for rest and and the most uncomfortable offers the highest first-day altitude. The most beautiful and the most spectacular routes are also the most expensive and the most demanding.
My point is this. We all choose which route we take in this life. And whatever route we choose will dictate the quality of our climb.
For some, like Vick, we are choosing to rely on talent to get us to the heights we want to go. Vick wanted to get where he was going quickly despite the poor choices he would ultimately make in his haste to get to the top. The same is true of us as women navigating our careers. When trying to manage our own personal climbs we need to be intentional about the routes we go.
Don’t choose the easiest or the most popular- you will be bored. Don’t choose the most comfortable or quickest way- you will miss out on the precious middle moments. Instead, consider taking those routes that are the hardest to take but offer you the most personal reward at the end.
If there is one thing we can learn from Vick it should be that success shouldn’t be measured in dollar signs- although our culture tells us differently. Personal integrity, moral conviction, and selfless love are such rare and valuable assets to have. And when the sun sets on your final play, you will have so much more than money to show for yourself. You will have immeasurable value.
Talk about a breathtaking view from the top.