“Believe in Changeability”. One of the first things you can read about Methodos. A phrase that is everywhere, from their website to their email signatures.
A beautiful word, changeability, that doesn’t exactly translate into any Italian term. Mutability doesn’t do it justice; because Changeability, generally, but above all in Methodos, is much more. It’s the union of the two terms that make up this compound word, “change” and “ability”: the ability to change.
The intrinsic capacity of humans to adapt, to improve, to go beyond their own limits, to confront difficulties. An attitude that Methodos has been cultivating for 40 years with its consulting work which points to an evolving context - that is never stable and secure, and in which those who stop are bound to get left behind - as the key to success.
A beautiful concept that’s already been seen from a theoretical point of view.
A marvelous value when it’s touched, experienced. How it’s happening, at various levels, to all the people that take part in the greatest Changeability challenge that this company has ever taken on: M4810.
The stimulus of the first step
“Stopping smoking, to be honest, is the peak of the iceberg. It’s the most visible thing, the one that everyone notices and that they compliment me on. But it’s actually just a highlight of a process”.
Elena is one of the best examples of this phenomenon, of this push to change that the challenge of the M4810 project promotes.
The beginning of this journey was a bit turbulent for everyone. You don’t often hear the CEO of your company say that you have to prepare for three years to climb the Mont Blanc. The few people that were already used to the mountains probably got used to the idea more quickly. But for everyone else it was shock. The reactions went from initial rejection, to thinking it was a joke, to Elena’s thought that it would all amount to nothing in the end. “Who knows what they’ll come up with as a plan B when they realise that it’s just not realistic,” she remembers thinking, smiling.
And instead, against all odds, it wasn’t a joke. It starts with the first outings, with the analysis of the first feedback and the making of relative adjustments. With the CAI meetings, to become more aware of the challenge this journey poses, and the fitness and medical appointments, to better know our own limits (and discover how to overcome them).
The challenge becomes more real, more imminent. Every outing, every step, brings us closer.
If we were able to face the first hikes with a light-hearted attitude, a “yeah, let’s see how it goes” approach, it’s quickly becoming clear that to go on we’ll need more than our Salewa gear. The ultra-light carbon fiber trekking poles won’t be enough to get us to the top: we’ll need to really change our mindset, even on how we go on in our everyday lives.
But how do we change habits that we acquired over years, decades? Sometimes we’re not even aware that we live with counter-productive attitudes; it becomes the status quo, our comfort zone.
Like smoking for Elena. An old vice that she had already unsuccessfully tried to free herself from. It’s never the right moment to stop smoking.
Sure, you can read books and try electronic substitutes but, with moving house, stress from work, all the daily requests we get that distract us from the important things, it’s easy to forget about it.
Until something sparks.
“I had recently gotten into my house, mine really, this time, after 6 years living practically like a nomad. I felt it was time to change something. But it was a message that gave me the last push, a message from Filippo. I don’t even remember what he wrote, I just remember that it was a challenge: he was provoking us to follow him, to push ourselves beyond our habits. And I spontaneously replied, ‘Yes, I’m with you. Let’s do it.’ In the end, if he does it, I told myself, if the person in charge of this whole company is so sure about it… then why shouldn’t I?
And something changed.
Up to that point, my approach to the mountains, to M4810, probably also to challenges against myself, was different. I wasn’t totally dedicated; in an unconscious way I was giving the minimum necessary towards reaching the goal. Then I would go home, light my cigarette, drink my glass of wine, I would eat badly. The change only came in the mountains, and disappeared once I would get back down. That day I told myself that, if I wanted to play, I had to do it well. To the best of my abilities. And cigarettes were the first obstacle, the most evident one.”
Changeability is a strange habit. It’s actually like a muscle that you can train. Until you do it, as long as you stay within your comfort zone, its wasted, it seems unable to sustain effort. But once you start moving it, it starts to wake up other muscles as a result. And, like a water drop that always falls in the same spot, it starts to dig a riverbed.
Alcohol is a cigarette’s best friend, and so Elena, trying to avoid putting herself in the condition to smoke, starts limiting it. She looks at herself in the mirror, she weighs herself, and she notices that she’s put on weight. And her journey, with the help of a colleague, helps her discover that her body is a temple, and that the food that she puts in it should be equally sacred. And also, that it should be trained - not only during the mountain outings. So, she signs up to the gym close to home that she always noticed, but never really looked at.
“I was happy to finally do something for myself, but at the same time I was very scared. I felt I was getting old and out of shape. Just a few years ago, I would have just pushed my body to give more effort but now I just can’t. I found myself in front of uncomfortable realities, and I started treating my body more gently, with the attention that it deserves.”
It’s the first time in my life that I’ve had this approach, to tell the truth, and I’m not always sure of what I’m doing. I have many ingredients at my disposal, and I have to create the perfect recipe with what I have in front of me… that’s how I started trying all of them. And I’m still doing it. I’m looking for the perfect balance between the ingredients, one step at a time, one experiment at a time. And it’s beautiful.”
A gentile push
“The one about the car started as a joke with colleagues, I didn’t even think it could be related at first. It was after that I realised that it was true: it was my approach that had to change.”
Lara has a different story. Less linear, seemingly less linked, but another example of how you can start training Changeability in the mountains, but how it ends up impacting your entire life.
“The Mont Fallère was probably the real turning point for me. I hadn’t ever been so high up in the mountains, I hadn’t ever done a ferrata, I didn’t even think I’d be able to! And when I arrived at the top, I looked down… wow! ‘I guess I can do anything,’ I told myself.”
It happened to be just a couple of days after that outing that Lara realised a seemingly unrelated fact: her driving licence was about to expire. It had already expired 3 years ago, but in 10 days it would expire permanently.
Lara had never loved driving, actually it makes her quite anxious.
Maybe because of an accident that she was involved in when she was young, maybe because of her character – she always preferred biking to driving, and not even the driving lessons offered by her partner helped her feel better about it.
In normal conditions she would have simply renewed her licence, and not used it for years. But this time… this time there was something different.
“I got to over 3000 metres of altitude, I reached the top of a mountain using my own strength, something that most people would never even think of doing… can’t I do something that everyone else does, like driving, even if it scares me?”
A question that changes the whole perspective. And so, instead of limiting herself to renewing the licence and letting it gather dust in a drawer again, she signed up to driving school.
“Now I’m taking some lessons with an instructor, calmly and without any pressure. I don’t want to force myself; I just want to overcome a fear that stops me, without reason, from being a ‘bigger version’ of myself. The mountains were that stimulus, that spark of trust without which I probably would never have thought about this. In the end, it’s a question of renewal, of growth. At a certain age, and after 20 years spent in the same company, its easy to wrongly believe that you’re there, that you don’t have to change. But in this work, in Methodos, you’re pushed to raise the bar continuously: you realise you can always learn more.
And I realised at Pointe Helbronner: I had a fear of coming down, of hurting my ankles on the snow and ice – I was very anxious. Then I noticed something: I had crampons. I had crampons and I could use them – I had the tools to face what I had to do; I could go beyond what I thought were my abilities because I had gathered something new. This is my Mont Blanc: it’s inside me, as it is in all of Methodos.”
Changeability is truly a beautiful thing. A powerful instrument for growth that allows you not only to discover that you can do it, but that you have the will to try. Maybe you don’t have the certainty of the final result or, like in Lara’s case, you’re still scared; you haven’t yet overcome the challenge; the journey is a long one. But you’ve decided to face it and, since you did, you have more trust in yourself, you feel stronger, you feel better and you smile more, at yourself and at others.
So, these are the stories we can tell about change.
Because, as Alessio Vaccarezza says, “Examples are viruses: they can spread and cause a spark in others, to face their own challenges, to climb their own Mont Blanc.
That’s Changeability, in its individual and team dimensions.
And it comes before change itself: it enables it.
In this story and in others, you can find our promise, as Methodos and as M4810.