Five Leadership Lessons from 2021


Five Leadership Lessons from 2021Alex Teixeira, Owner, Mooney Mountain Guides, LLC 

I’m a guide whose purpose is to enhance the lives of people by introducing them to the wonders of rock and ice climbing, mountaineering and back country skiing in the Northeast and Pacific Northwest. 

Some readers may think, “Look at this guy. I wish I was paid to climb and not have to fill out time sheets, attend countless Zoom meetings or make my direct reports happy.” 

Don’t get me wrong. I do love every aspect of my chosen profession and I do try to show others the magic of the mountains and the myriad ways in which they can channel the energy needed to top out on a summit or navigate a challenging downhill run to enhance their work-life balance. 

And while those overarching goals have remained constant, I’ve had to readjust my point-of-view to address the realities of guiding during the pandemic. 

Here are my five leadership learning lessons of the past year: 

1)  The Power of a Personal PurposeWhen folks ask me what I do for a living I say, “I’m a quality-of-life enhancer.” I then say, “That’s my personal purpose. What’s yours?”  

Many of you work for an organization that is purpose driven, but how many of you have a personal reason for being? 

So what does my personal purpose mean? On the surface it’s rather simple: Let’s go climbing, try hard and have fun. But if we look below the surface it can mean a lot more. To make the lives of people better.  

For example, through my work, my family can travel and see the world. My young daughter’s world view has no doubt been enhanced through these adventures. We have also created a scholarship fund that goes directly to Kismet Rock Foundation, which uses technical climbing to help vulnerable children because “….it requires the application of nearly all aspects of our being. Thus, it is unique in providing a depth of joy and a broad nourishment of one’s potential.” 

My personal purpose has helped guide me through the past 12 months and enabled me to readjust and meet the challenges of each new day in a way that is authentic to me and my business. It keeps me motivated.

2) The Power of Negative Thinking: When I was growing up, my father told me, “No matter how bad it is, it can always be worse.” I refer to this cliché as “the power of negative thinking.” It’s a tool I use when considering risk in the mountains. I ask myself, “What’s the worst thing that can happen right here and right now?” By anticipating a specific hazard, I automatically protect myself (and the individuals I’m guiding) against other, smaller hazards that may come with traversing an exposed ridgeline, descending a glaciated slope, or deciding how to move forward with everyday business decisions. Scenario planning (or the power of negative thinking as I refer to it) will help you respond with certainty in an era of uncertainty. Purpose in the moment.

3) The Power of Empathy: My dad also told me, “No matter how good you are, there is always someone better.”  

There are two ways to respond to that aphorism. You can think, “Wow, maybe I should switch from climbing to becoming a motivational speaker. It’s safer and more lucrative.” Or you can look at it through a different lens. We are all mortal beings and, in that truth, lies another one: we are not perfect. 

Perfection or excellence is something to strive for, but it is not a realistic summit on which to plant the flag of success. 

I was losing steam and valuable time by being too hard on myself. It wasn’t working. So, in 2021, I made a conscious effort to give myself some slack. I freed up a considerable amount of bandwidth by allowing myself not to be perfect at everything, all the time. It allowed me to focus more on my purpose. Work became a lot more fun too.

4) The Power of Just Saying No: No can be an extremely difficult thing to say to a client who is ready and willing to pay for your services. It’s key to remember that you can’t satisfy everyone. You, and you alone, know what is right for your business. 

I discovered that annual growth targets were not the right metric for my business’s purpose. Instead, I decided NOT to grow, and rather to shrink and concentrate on quality rather than quantity. We are much more focused on purpose, rather than profit. Ask yourself this question: Am I sacrificing quality by always chasing the dollar? If you are, maybe it’s time to re-think that strategy before your employees and clients wake up to the reality that your purpose is not what you say it is and you loose authenticity.

5) The Power of People: I spent the past 365 days surrounding myself with smart, capable guides. They didn’t have to be the best climbers in the world. They didn’t have to boast the coolest social media presence. And I wasn’t looking for someone with the most prestigious credentials.

Look beyond the traditional metrics of what defines a good employee and find good people who share your purpose, not just good resumes. If you are fortunate enough to find one a true gem, be sure to support them in any and every way possible. 

I am SO proud of my team and what they have been able to accomplish in this last year. Sharing in their success has without question led to better business. 

I’m going to keep referring to my five leadership lessons to guide me in my decision-making in 2022. They may not be revolutionary ideas, but they’ve helped me re-imagine my value and how my business contributes to the greater good.

About the Author: Alex Teixeira is the owner of Mooney Mountain Guides LLC, a mountain guide service based in New Hampshire. When Alex is not at work putting ropes up and taking them down, he can typically be found playing outdoors. You can reach him here: