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7 things I learned on my way to the top of the world

Posted on March 06 2016


The Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world. Standing at 2,716.5 feet and housing more than 160 stories, it is truly a sight to behold. I was most recently in Dubai and Abu Dhabi and I knew I couldn’t leave the UAE without experiencing life at the top. It turns out that life had a few lessons for me as well.

It is my experience that each hour of each day offers thousands of teachable moments. The question is, are we watching? Are we listening? Are we paying attention to those moments? When I look back at what life has taught me, I realize that my most profound lessons have always come from the most simple and sometimes mundane scenarios. These 7 lessons below were no different.

1. Everyone wants to get to the top but few are willing to pay the cost to get there. There are 2 levels at which you can enjoy the views at the Burj Khalifa. Level 124 and 148. For some, the view at level 124 is fine while others want the whole extravaganza. In life and at the Burj Khalifa, you have to ask yourself what you’re willing to pay and how far up you want to go.

2. The line and wait time to get to the top is very, very long. Pre-security, I found myself waiting for approximately 30-40 minutes. Getting to the elevator that would take me to the top required another 45 minutes. Any road or journey worth taking will require some wait time to get there. This is when people start giving up. When I was little and would complain to my grandmother about something I couldn’t change, she’d say to me, “what cannot be helped must be endured.” If you can’t change something, then try to endure it. I’ll take it one step further and say, try to endure it with a joyful spirit. This is easier said than done but the only thing that will keep you sane on the way to the top of the Burj Khalifa and your dreams is to try to enjoy yourself while waiting. Make conversation, laugh, observe and try not to lose yourself to irritation, anger and anxiety.

3. Be very observant of the people you meet along the way. You learn so much when you watch and observe. What you learn will in turn allow you to react consciously to the scenarios unfolding in front of you instead of reacting in fear. From the people who push and shove their way through the line but still end up in the same elevator as you to the little girl sleeping on her mother’s shoulder –completely at peace and unaware of the chaos ensuing around her…Observe, take it all in –there’s always a message within the mess.

4. Be bold and push through but don’t lose yourself in the fight to get to the top. The journey to the top is never breezy. You have to fight your way through and stand up for yourself and what you believe in. It is however very easy to get lost in that fight. You start to think only of yourself and how you’re going to get where you’re going. You do whatever is necessary to get there, become selfish and mean with little regard for anyone else. This is why it’s important to be equally observant of your inner self as you are with others.

5. You’ll get so tired that you’ll want to quit. Don’t. There’s a point while waiting in line for the elevator that you can get a peek of the doors around the corner. There’s excitement because you realize that you’re so close but the worst case of fatigue sets in. Physically, your body hurts from the bags and camera you’ve been logging around all day. Mentally, you’re drained from all the noise and waiting. You contemplate calling it quits because you’re not sure that the view will even be worth it. There’s a reason they say that the night is darkest just before the dawn. Take one foot, place it in front of the other and keep moving. That moment will pass.

6. Being at the top may feel differently than you thought it would. When you wait for something for so long, there are always a lot of expectations tied to the end result. This is why it’s important to focus less on the destination and more on the journey. So many people fight so hard to get to the top and then they feel empty when they get there. They become frustrated because they thought they’d feel complete. If you weren’t complete on your way to the top, you won’t be complete when you get there. There are others who get to the top and never stop to be in the moment. They spend so much time posing and taking photos of the experience vs. being in the experience. There’s nothing wrong with documenting amazing moments, just don’t forget to be in it. You’ve spent so much time waiting for it, wanting it. Make sure you enjoy it.

7. Don’t let the experience of getting there make you bitter. Life is filled with millions of Burj Khalifas. It could be starting a new business, starting a family or finding your dream job. Keep in mind that the journey to the top of each dream is never exactly the same. Take the lessons you’ve learned and apply them but don’t ever let the experience of achieving one dream deter you from pursuing another.


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