She was in her teens. She was poor. She had a tribal background and she became the youngest woman to climb Everest. I am talking about the girl who broke the glass ceiling and achieved the impossible facing all odds and conquered the highest peak in the world. Source: http://www.thegameplan.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/image00112.jpgI am talking about the female sensation Purna Malavath who has inspired thousands of aspiring climbers to achieve the impossible. The message she gives with her story is that you must be willing to test yourself. Source: http://navbharattimes.indiatimes.com/thumb/msid-51572937,width-400,resizemode-4,malavath-purna.jpgPurna tested herself in one more incident. It was the day when she reached the Everest base camp – 15th April 2014. She recieved the news that on that day, sixteen sherpas died due to an avalanche on on the Nepalese side of Mt. Everest. It was a huge setback for everyone in the team, but for Purna it wasn’t a roadblock. She wanted to get into unknown waters to do the impossible. It wasn’t a casual decision, but a decision based on analyses and courage. Finally, she made it to the peak on 25 May 2014.Purna enrolled into a training program for outdoor activities when in school. She soon realised that she had a high endurance level, which is needed for high altitude climbing. If she would not have enrolled in such a course, her hidden talent would never have been realised. The message is that leaders must be willing to test themselves in uncertain situations. Jeeveshu Ahluwalia is one of the best stand-up comedians in India, and is a perfect example of testing yourself in domains beyond your current title. He left a high paying job to test himself in comedy and has now become a great success. Had he not tested himself by taking the leap and just continued working for the company, he would not have discovered what he was made of. Recently I shared the stage with him at a TEDx event in Delhi and it was a delight to watch him perform. In retrospect, I think if leaders don’t test themselves they will never realise their hidden talents. I think of another group which has carved a niche for themselves - Cirque Du Soleil. In the book Blue Ocean Strategy, the author gives the example of this circus group, which transformed the circus business entirely, combining theatre with the circus while making it a sophisticated art form. It was their version of going to unknown grounds and testing themselves. Nothing was done like this before but they did an awesome job by entering into this blue ocean. The ‘blue ocean’ is an area that is uncontested and can be explored by businesses which want to create a new industry all together. The second story I want to share is of Bachendri Pal, who was the first Indian woman to climb Everest. On May 23rd, 1984, she created history and was awarded several prestigious national medals for her spirit. Her story is quite similar to Purna Malavath’s because she too broke the glass ceiling by first becoming the only graduate of her village and then becoming the first Indian woman to conquer Everest. There is one story about her that I must mention. She, along with her team, commenced their journey towards Everest in May 1984 when all of a sudden, a landslide struck. Many believed that it was a bad omen and they should return. But she insisted that whatever happened has happened and it’s time to move forward and conquer Everest. It was a time of test for her. She, with the support of her team did what seemed impossible at first and became the first Indian woman to conquer Mt. Everest. Source: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/__Rw9ba4uS-Y/TIdayP4GGnI/AAAAAAAAE0c/Da_pkWWS-_8/s1600/bachendri+pal.bmpUltimately the message I want to put forward is that leaders must be willing to step out of their strength zones and test themselves in unknown areas. If you are hungry for more, I have a podcast which details out the three steps to move beyond comfort zone, have a look But that’s not it. here are a few questions that might get you going – \tWhen was the last time you did something for the first time? \tWhat new projects you have taken up and reached a successful closure? \tHow can you test yourself beyond your comfort zone in your current job? Ask these questions and you might trigger your thought muscle to build courage in you. Till then, stay hungry and stay wise. Cheers!