My Workspace: No Fear
A piece of German mountaintop reminds Steven Hacker, CAE, of a proud achievement.
When you’ve conquered a lifelong fear, you need a souvenir.
That’s how Steven Hacker, CEM, FASAE, CAE, felt in 1985, standing at the summit of the Zugspitze, the highest mountain in Germany. Along with his son, David, then 9 years old, Hacker had found himself on a hike that involved far more than he’d bargained for when a friend invited them to join a group on the outing.
“My concept of a hike was walking through the Black Forest eating pretzels and drinking beer, so I quickly agreed,” says Hacker, principal of Bravo Management Group in Fairview, Texas. Instead, after being lifted to the summit (elevation 9,718 feet) in a gondola, the group spent the next 14 hours hiking down and across glaciers and up to another peak on the Austrian side of the border.
“David and I were both panicked several times along the way,” Hacker recalls. He remembers one harrowing moment clinging to a rock outcropping, looking straight down into the valley 5,000 feet below, and thinking, “It’s a shame I will not live to see the birth of our daughter next month because there’s no way I’m going to get up and over this thing unless the Austrian Air Force shows up with a helicopter and a sling.”
No dramatic rescue was required, and Hacker and his son returned safely with souvenir rocks, which they both keep in their offices to this day.
“The experience did cure me of my fear of heights,” Hacker says now. “I can’t say it was fun in any conventional sense. It was a physical and mental test that I passed and that serves to remind me that we can achieve a lot more than we sometimes think.”