If you push your limits, you perform at your best

Peter Habel­er is an Aus­tri­an moun­taineer, alpin­ist and author. In 1978 he ascend­ed, togeth­er with Rein­hold Mess­ner, the Mount Ever­est as first man with­out sup­ple­men­tary oxy­gen. He was one of the experts at the SURPRISE FACTORS SYMPOSIUM 2014 „Beyond Bor­ders — The strenght to emerge from cri­sis” which has tak­en place in Gmunden (Aus­tria).

There is a need for more peo­ple who are will­ing to leave their com­fort zone and to allow new expe­ri­ences. For that, peo­ple need to take the respon­si­bil­i­ty for their own deci­sions. Only in this way you can get more con­fi­dent and can keep look­ing out for new lim­its and experiences.

„Because, at the moun­tain you can only rely on your­self”- No one else can give you the strength thats required. You have to be will­ing to take risks, but you also have to be will­ing and able to accept the con­se­quences. So you can con­tin­ue to push your­self fur­ther. How­ev­er, one must also be able to turn around, if the risks are too high. This nat­ur­al giv­en sense of risks can be learned, if you make your own deci­sions and are con­front­ed with their con­se­quences afterwards.

These prin­ci­ples and rules, which Habel­er illus­trat­ed with the exam­ple of the extreme sports high-alti­tude moun­taineer­ing, can be applied to many oth­er areas — such as work and pri­vate life, busi­ness and pol­i­tics. Expe­ri­ences with phys­i­cal and men­tal lim­its in sport con­tribute to the for­ma­tion of one’s per­son­al­i­ty, so that a knowl­edge of your own strengths aris­es. They can also con­tribute to the devel­op­ment of mech­a­nisms which help us to bet­ter cope with future social peak experiences.


  • „Maybe we can not achieve it, but we try.”
  • „Every­one has his per­son­al Everest.”
  • „It’s about the ques­tion: who is stronger? I or me?”
  • „It’s good to take a risk. Because after­wards you feel stronger.”
  • „We tried to keep our team as small as pos­si­ble — because it’s simpler.”
  • „Once you come down from a moun­tain, you are look­ing for the next lim­it to push.”

Connecting factors for ACADEMIA SUPERIOR

Points for fur­ther discussion:

  • How to get out oft he com­fort zone and cre­ate new experiences?
  • Can you keep all things simple?
  • How can politi­cians take risks, but also bear the con­se­quences of their decisions?
  • How can we make politi­cians and soci­ety to see things more opti­mistic — even if you are at the limit?
  • How do you define smart risks?
  • Which lim­its should we exceed?

Tools for development:

  • Replace the cul­ture of risk avoid­ance by a cul­ture of change.
  • Small teams are sim­pler at spe­cif­ic challenges.
  • Devel­op rit­u­als to avoid bad decisions.
  • Define points, at which the soci­ety has to reverse a development.
  • Train peo­ple to become entre­pre­neurs of their own life.
  • After cross­ing a lim­it, start look­ing out for the next limit.