In a recent Training Unleashed Podcast, Evan Hackel sat down and talked with Mark Pattison about becoming a champion.
There are people who have theories about becoming a champion, and there are people like Mark who has undisputedly done it in the realms of sport, mountaineering and business. The secrets he shared with Evan and our Training Unleashed family are grounded firmly in both his own story and in reality.
About Mark Pattison’s Many Successes
Mark is a former wide receiver who played for four seasons in the National Football League for the Los Angeles Raiders, the Los Angeles Rams, and the New Orleans Saints. Before he turned pro, Mark played for the University of Washington in Seattle, where he learned life lessons about coaching.
After his NFL career, Mark turned to mountain climbing. In 2013, he began a goal to climb the the highest peaks on each of the seven continents, which mountaineers call the Seven Summits. And Mark, as you will discover in his talk with Evan, is not a person who fails to reach his objectives. He went on to successfully climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania in 2013 and 2017, Mount Elbrus in Russia in 2014, Mount Kosciuszko in Australia in 2015, the Aconcagua in Argentina in 2016, the Denali in Alaska in 2018, the Vinson Massif in the Antarctic in 2019, and Mount Everest in 2021.
Today Mark serves as SVP of Business Development for Sports Illustrated. As a philanthropist, his causes include the Epilepsy Foundation and Higher Ground, an organization that supports veterans. Mark hosts the Finding Your Summit Podcast, and we are thrilled that he spent a life-transforming half hour with our host Evan Hackel.
Excerpts from the Conversation Between Mark and Evan
If you are committed to becoming a champion in your life and your career, you won’t want to miss a minute of the conversation that Mark and Evan shared.
Here are some excerpts of their talk.
Evan: How many people have climbed the Seven Summits?
Mark: Not a whole lot. You know, I think the total number over time is above 5,000. In terms of NFL players, there are only two of us!
Evan: This show is about training. And I understand you have a philosophy of training that has helped you in every aspect of your life. Why don’t we just start there and what that philosophy is?
Mark: I went to the University of Washington on a football scholarship and when I went there, I was not prepared in any way. I was completely overwhelmed. I really didn’t understand the roadmap to becoming successful. A Hall of Fame coach there, Don James, had taken a page out of the famous basketball coach from UCLA, John Wooden, and he adopted it as his own – the Pyramid of Success.
It helped me understand what it takes to become a champion in anything you do, whether it’s physical or in the business world. And that things don’t happen overnight. The pyramid of success has really helped me get to where I’ve been through the different things I’ve done.
Evan: Please tell us more about what the pyramid is.
Mark: It’s a pyramid and there are 25 individual and team goals . . . And essentially, when you start talking about individual and team goals, you got to put yourself in a position for success. You’ve got to know the game. You have to know what you’re in for. You have to understand that it’s a daily grind.
All those little things lead to the bigger things and in terms of a team, you also have to learn how to integrate them into to a larger concept. When I was playing football, there were 11 guys on each side of the ball . . . We started off with 21 team members on Everest and only 10 of us made it. When we got down to that core 10, we had to really rely on each other for various things.
And in business, there’s no question that you can’t succeed if you don’t have people. We all have different core strengths. Success is like ascending a ladder, and it can take years.
The Seven Summits took me almost 10 years to achieve. The gaming company I founded, it took me years to start in 2001 and sell in 2008. So it was over a course of time. But competitive greatness at the end of the day means that you will love the process. And if you don’t love the process in business and sports and other things that we do in life, there are going to be obstacles. And if you don’t have a strong “why” on the reason you’re doing all these different things, you’ll quit.
Evan: Climbing Everest is certainly not a walk in the park. I know that at one point you were snow blind, so you essentially couldn’t see. You hadn’t eaten for three days. And you didn’t have supplemental oxygen. Can you talk about that?
Mark: Yeah, that’s almost right. I was snow blind in one eye, so out of one I could still see okay, but . . . climbing a hard enough feat on your best day. But when it turns out to be your worst day and you don’t have the energy, and all the energy that you do have is going towards . . . why am I so blind?
And also, you’re trying to reach down and clip in because you’re tethered to the mountain. You’ve got fixed lines that are about 100 yards apart, and they’re anchored by screws and you’re constantly reaching down and slipping in and clipping out and clipping into the next one. And the problem with that is that because of these past expeditions, they haven’t taken those five other ropes off the father lines up the mountain. And so you’re looking at this, you know, and your depth perception is off. And are you clipping in to the right one? Because if you don’t clip in, the other ones are frayed and especially as you get higher on the mountain, it is straight down to Tibet and there’s no stopping.
And you’re stepping over dead bodies. There are a lot of negatives in terms of the supplemental oxygen. I ran out on my way down and my sherpa had left me. And so I had to go through this battle of trying to gasp for air. I was out [of oxygen] for 18 hours and I’m not an endurance athlete.
John Wooden said you need to be at your best when your best is required. And my breath was required on that particular day, but I was not at my best. You know, you’ve got to figure out a way to come up with the gumption to keep driving and the why of not quitting, and I’m going to do this and keep going.
It’s just too easy to quit and there are so many dead bodies up on Everest as you get to the top that, you know, I was looking around and it’s like, this is not the day that Mark dies.
Mark Would Like to Welcome All of You to Listen to his Finding Your Summit Podcast!
Be sure to become part of Mark’s Finding Your Summit podcast family. Mark interviews an amazing group of individuals who have achieved ultimate success in business, health, life . . . and more. You will want to be part of it!