Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

May 01 2013

From Mountains to Meetings: The Power of Partnership

By Jill Formeister
“You can’t reach the tops of mountains without partners.” So began adventure climber, author, and speaker Jim Davidson’s presentation at last week’s HSMAI MEET Mid-America in Chicago. He explained that partners are essential to “pull you up, motivate you, and care for you,” in both mountain climbing and meeting planning.

Davidson gave two examples of the role of partnership in his life. The first story concerned an early job painting electrical towers. As he crawled out onto the poles, he depended on his partners who held safety lines. He also needed to focus on what he was doing to keep everyone safe. Falling onto the wires would have caused electrocution for all concerned, as the power would have run down the pole and into the ground where his partners stood.

Next, he dramatically described how he and his climbing partner fell into a crevasse and were buried up to their chins in snow. In spite of his own fear and discomfort, he knew he had to reach his partner, Mike, who was badly injured. After administering CPR for 15-20 minutes, he realized that Mike was gone. 

Davidson’s next job was to get Mike out, even though he was “short of resources, people, and time.” They had fallen through a hole that was 80’ up and had landed on a ledge, and not on the bottom of the crevasse. Davidson painstakingly and slowly made his way up to that hole and got out. A rescue team removed Mike’s body. Although Davidson had considered giving up, he focused on his partner and the lesson that “you don’t give up just because it’s hard.” 

Davidson’s summarized his three partnership practices as:
1. Be trustworthy
2. Be transparent
3. Stay committed.

All three practices certainly apply to meeting planning.


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