As many of you know, my wife and I are climbing to the top of as many of the US State Highpoints as we can. We just finished number 45, Borah Peak in Idaho. What an awesome experience! We climbed about 5,500’ up to the summit in a little over 3.5 miles. Around two thirds the way up, we came across a section called “Chicken Out Ridge,” the name of a feared stretch on the way to Idaho’s highest summit. Yep, that’s the real name – you can find videos on You Tube of climbers moving through this area. The ridge gets its name because of all of the people who turn around (or chicken out) when they get there. You see, getting past Chicken Out Ridge calls for some rock climbing – and for us, getting help from an experienced guide, because a fall would most likely have been fatal.
This was the first time we worked with a qualified, well trained guide. His name was Drew, and he works with Sawtooth Mountain Guides – great guy! We hired Drew because we had only one concern – getting through Chicken Out Ridge safely. What we discovered, though, was that Drew helped us with a variety of things, some of which we didn’t know we needed help with. Drew talked with us about proper gear, ways to effectively layer clothing, as well as GPS navigation and tracking. He had us practice proper pace and use of techniques such as the “rest step” and “pressure breathing.” We talked about altitude sickness and the importance of proper nutrition and hydration. He told stories about mistakes that other climbers had made. All of this was in addition to showing us how to put on a climbing harness, fit our helmet around our head and tie the proper knots to secure our safety.
As we approached Chicken Out Ridge, we saw other climbers turning around. It looked formidable! I remember wondering how we were going to get through this section. But, I reminded myself, that’s why we have Drew. He calmly explained what we were going to do and how we were going to do it. He reassured us that the techniques he was teaching would keep us safe, and to trust the belay system. It sounded simple enough. On the way up, he would belay us from ahead, and my wife would lead. During level sections and down climbs, I would lead. Terms like “short roping” and “short pitching” were used. At first, it was scary – it was a long way down. But, in short order, something unexpected happened – the experience became fun! Adrenaline kicked in, the fear factor dissipated, and we were able to enjoy the challenge as well as the beauty of the mountains around us.
After a successful summit, and during our climb down the mountain, I began to draw parallels with what Drew did for us and what I hope we do for our clients – and how I want our clients to feel when they are working with us. Often, clients come to us because they have a specific problem, such as navigating through retirement planning decisions. If that’s not like Chicken Out Ridge, then I don’t know what is! Hopefully, during the process of working together, our clients find that there are many other areas where we can help; like estate planning, charitable solutions, investment management, tax efficiency, college funding, cash flow strategies, debt management, insurance policies, strategies for business owners, and many more.
But, maybe the greatest intangible that we can offer our clients is that feeling when things aren’t as scary anymore, the freedom to enjoy their journey, the satisfaction of learning new things, and the capacity to focus on the beauty around them. This is what Drew gave us. Our guide. Who wouldn’t want to have these same feelings around their personal finances? I know I do and I want that for our clients. So…
Please think of us as your guide - that professional who helps you figure out how to strive for your goals, who helps you plan your journey, who helps you navigate along the proper paths, who helps you think about things you didn’t know you should, who teaches you skills, who encourages you when you are struggling, who has seen the mistakes that others have made, who is always contingency planning for the things that we know can go wrong, who takes a leadership role when things do go wrong, and who is with you until you finish your journey. Your guide.
When we finished the climb and were saying our good byes, I thanked Drew for keeping us safe, for helping us reach our goal, for teaching us new skills, for being patient and for making the experience truly enjoyable. That was from my heart. I hope those words made Drew feel good. I hope he felt a sense of satisfaction, that he made a difference in our lives. And, I hope that our clients feel exactly the same way about us as we help guide them toward their financial goals during their life journeys. That they want to share those same words of thanks with us.
In the meantime, thank you for letting us be your guide.
And by the way, about “your” Chicken Out Ridge…bring it on!!!
Content in this material is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.
Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advice offered through Second Half Strategies, a registered investment advisor and separate entity from LPL Financial.