Last week I had the pleasure of teaching and sharing a class with Custodia Cabanas at the IE Business School in Madrid. Custodia is an expert in leadership and team management. She has been working at the IE Business School since 1989, and lectures on the school’s MBA, IMBA and Executive MBA programs.

The class we gave together was for a group involved in the AMP program. The aim of the session, entitled A Leader’s Vision”, was to show people how develop and follow through on a personal and/or professional Vision. My contribution involved explaining how I developed my Vision to climb the planet’s 14 eight-thousanders.

I studied Engineering and when I finished my degree I started working as an engineer in the family business. One day, however, my life was to change forever and instead of continuing in the family tradition, I made the decision to devote my life to climbing mountains in the Himalayas, which is what I really had a passion for. It was then that I was able to create a Vision: I wanted to pursue a professional career in the world of mountaineering.

It is very important with any business endeavour to know exactly what your Vision is, and we need to define it clearly. For the projects in my life so far, I have normally tried to define a Vision to take me through the following 5 years.

When I decided to devote my life to mountaineering, the first thing I did was to analyse the situation very carefully and then work out an action plan. Similarly, in business, it is very important to identify your or your company’s values before drawing up an action plan. Once these have been established, you can go ahead and start working on a plan.

When I decided to give up my career as an engineer to develop a career in mountaineering which would hopefully one day pay me a living, I was fully aware that I had a serious challenge ahead of me, particularly as it is a minority sport.

By then, I knew what my personal values were and what the values of my brand were and whatever I did would have to be consistent with these values. So I started working on a plan of action which, in the end, took me 10 years to fulfil. It is true that I thought it would take 5, but given the nature of the objective – I wanted to be able to make a living climbing mountains – in the end this did not happen for 8 years. But I never lost my drive thanks to one of the values I mentioned before: Determination. I am a very hard worker, very tenacious and I do not give up easily. And I think that somehow this is what has kept me going. Being unwavering of the value of determination has helped me as a sportswoman, as a businesswoman and as a person.

If we start thinking about what we want our Vision to be, we might well find it hard to actually make the decision to create a Vision, be it personal or professional. Sometimes it can be difficult to overcome this reluctance in order to move forward.

When we are faced with a critical situation, it is not difficult to create a Vision since the urgency of the situation makes it easy to overcome any reluctance. This is not to say that there won’t be uncertainty, fear and other factors. Personally, I did not have this problem when I decided to climb mountains and give up my job as an engineer. But on other occasions it has been difficult to overcome this kind of inner resistence, and particularly in the current situation and state our country is in. It would be normal here to create an optimistic Vision, something that truly drives us, like mountaineering does for me. It is easier to create a Vision when there is passion behind it, but overcoming inner reluctance is much more complicated.

When I meet this inner struggle, I use this maxim: “When you have to choose between two paths, always follow your heart”. I know it is sometimes hard and sometimes even impossible. But we all, to some extent, should have a personal or professional Vision. And in business it is vital for us as leaders to be able to communicate this Vision to our teams.