Scaling new heights

Source: Hays Journal Issue 17 - click here for more information and to get your free copy

Michael Moniz, CEO and co-founder of cyber security and learning platform Circadence, is also an experienced mountaineer. He discusses how he achieves peak performance, both professionally and personally, through his passions

Discovering a passion

I picked up rock climbing as a freshman at the University of Colorado and continued to climb throughout that time.

What got me into high-altitude climbing was a chance to go up to Everest base camp in 2007. I opted to take my son Matt, who was nine years old, with me. We had fairly low expectations about how far we might get, but we thought we’d give it a go. It turned out that he loved the sport and we talked the entire time. It was a phenomenal experience for the two of us.

Life lessons

One thing I get from mountaineering is that it resets my expectations of what’s a want and what’s a need. I have lived in a tent at 5,500m and had a chance to spend time just reading books and talking with friends. It gives you a sense that you can live with a lot less than you think you can, which empowers you to be bold and continue to take risks.

Sometimes you reflect back on an experience and realise that what you gained from it was far more impactful than actually standing on top of the world.

Finding time

My family have a cabin in the mountains of Colorado at about 9,000ft. Sometimes I’ll leave on a Friday afternoon and get there by five and do a climb on one of the passes that we cross by car. I’ll park there and use alpine touring skis to climb up to the top of a mountain.

That way I spend a couple of hours getting a good workout and keeping my body well adapted to high altitude. I know that if I’m not healthy, I don’t do my job well; I’m not as articulate, as creative, as supple in terms of my ability to respond to customers’ complex problems.

I do a tremendous amount of backcountry skiing, which keeps my fitness level really high. I always like to feel like I’m within 30 days of being able to be really focused and able to climb an 8,000m peak. That’s where I want to be.

Reaping rewards

The benefit for me, for the company and our shareholders is that the time I spend out there, often alone, gives me a lot of space to think. Some of my best creative ideas have come from the times when I’m in a really disconnected world where I can just think.

We certainly encourage, applaud and support this mindset of finding time for passions in our company. We can relate to the value it brings in terms of the whole person.

My suggestion for those who struggle to find balance is that they immediately force themselves to find time to take a week off. They should identify one thing they’ve been putting off and just go and do it. Disconnect yourself, and then, while you’re there, try to explore the things you’re passionate about.