The Ethical Alpinist: Grace in the Mountains over Glory on Social Media

Dr. Chris E. Stout
8 min readJan 8

At first glance, you may not think this has much to do with LinkedIn readers’ interests or something written by a LinkedIn Top Voice, but I see a number of parallels with what I want to think out loud with you about. First off leadership, that’s a dominant gene in LinkedIn’s DNA. Also, from my point of view, in business and startups (of which I have some experience), every project worth its salt addresses a problem in need of a solution, or an established enterprise that wants to grow, needs to have the benefit of strong leadership, good planning, the ability to pivot if/when need be, manage risk, and be able to prepare and execute. There is also the need to be able to coordinate and manage teams, and to be able to be of support during adverse conditions. Another thing about leadership is that you need to respect and appreciate the environment in that you and your team are working in. To me that also sounds a lot like mountaineering.

Parallels with my field of Global Health

Mountaineering is quite similar to working on global health problems:

  • Both involve big, and seemingly insurmountable tasks,
  • Both take the help of others in order to reach the goal,
  • Both deal with risks, and
  • Both require large doses of planning, team work, concentrated effort, and hope.

I believe what makes the difference in all these situations, what is predicated and build upon a strong foundation, is that of ethics and doing what’s right. As of the time of this writing, the lack thereof seems to be very topical in the business press with so many high profile founder flameouts and fraudsters as of late.

I just read a piece by Ben Ayers (who is a journalist who knows what he’s talking about), titled The Speed Demons and Selfie Seekers at the Top of the World. He also references Jon Krakauer’s cautionary tale, Into Thin Air. Seems a lot of rich folks may not have read it.

Ethics and Ethos

I get it. Record setting and breaking is cool and impressive. I’ve had Colin O’Brady on my podcast twice, and Olympic medalist, John Coyle. The difference for them is that they put in…