Stephen Koch is a professional speaker, climber, snowboarder and mountain guide. His list of alpine ascents and descents include some of the most notable firsts anywhere in the world, most of which have never been repeated. He is best known as the first and only person to snowboard on all Seven Summits, the highest peak on each continent. Stephen is also the first to snowboard all the major Teton Peaks in Wyoming. He has been featured in Outside, Men’s Journal, and Sports Illustrated Magazines and has appeared on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, MSNBC and OLN. His photography work has been published in Men’s Journal Magazine, Outside Magazine, National Geographic Adventure Magazine, American Alpine Journal, and Alpinist Magazine.
My Definition Of Success | Success to me is being happy. I used to think it was in getting on magazine covers and to the top of mountains with my snowboard then sliding down a new route. I now see that success is being happy. The best way I have found to be happy is to be kind to all beings, starting with myself.
I Am Driven By | Passion. I like to do things to the best of my ability. And when I am pursuing a passion it makes it a
joy to do.
My Highlights | The highlights of my career are climbing Light Traveler, a new route on the SW face of Denali in Alaska. The highlights of my life are my two boys and learning from them on a daily basis.
The Difference Between good And Great | Passion.
A Key Talent | My belief that anything is possible has been critical to my success. That is my best attribute. My mind and belief in myself and my tenacity. Find your passion. Set a goal involving your passion. Believe in your ability to succeed in your set goal. Take it one step at a time. Breaking down the larger parts into single steps. You climb any mountain by taking the first step and one step at a time. Find a mentor. Ask someone to be your mentor. Be a mentor for someone else if you have achieved some success. You’d be amazed at how willing people are to help when asked nicely. Evaluate where you are towards your goal often and adjust as needed. When you fall down, get back up. We all fall down. If you don’t you are not trying. The power is in learning from your mistakes. I don’t even like calling things that don’t go well mistakes. I like calling them learning opportunities. That is power. To turn setbacks into opportunities to learn and grow and learn from them to do better moving forward. Never should on yourself or others. Should is the most toxic word around. Change it to will for moving forward if you are going to commit to it. If you are not, don’t talk about it. When talking about the past, don’t use should either. I should have done xyz…Say instead, if I had done xyz, then this or that would have happened (desired outcome). Realize that life is a journey that begins at birth and ends at death. We have our breath with us from the moment we are born until our last, when we die. Tap into your breath by consciously breathing. Take one deep breath. Then another. Then another. Use your breath to monitor where you are inside. To feel rather than to think. Making decisions based on how you feel, your heart, inner voice, sixth sense, is powerful and something I work to do more and more through conscious breathing. Here’s a video on conscious breathing/meditation – How to Meditate
Principles I Live By | Be kind. Start with yourself. Don’t take what others say personally. It is generally not about you anyway. Many people live, act and speak based on fear. You don’t have to take that on from others. We can reduce our own fear and chaotic mind through conscious breathing/meditation. We can relearn (we knew how we felt when we were small children, before we started thinking so much as we grew older) how to tap into our emotions by quieting our minds. The steps are to begin to quite our minds through meditation. Then we become aware of our feelings. Then we can act according to how we feel vs. reacting to our chaotic minds. Putting our hands on our belly and taking a deep breath is a great start. Utilizing our breath to relax before an interview or an interaction with someone can put us in a more conscious and aware space. Listening to others well. And learning to listen to ourselves. These are gifts. Utilizing silence. We don’t always have to fill the quiet space with noise / our voice. Taking a breath during a conversation to reflect on what was said and how we are feeling based on the information is very powerful. Slow down and listen/breathe. Saying “Thank You” is magic. When paid a compliment, simply say “thank you,” even if you can’t own the compliment/don’t feel worthy to receive it. It may help to view a compliment as a gift. Simply taking it by saying thank you honors the giver of the compliment/gift and honors you. You are worthy to receive the gift/compliment. Let it in. Also, if someone says something unkind to you or insults you, simply saying “thank you” is much better than getting defensive and engaging with that person. Simply say thank you and walk away. I find myself saying thank you often and it helps me flow through life much easier.
Critical Skills I Develop | Being kind to myself and others and being grateful for what I have, however small it may seem.
How I Use My Mind | By being positive and believing anything is possible. Looking for a solution in in-obvious/unlikely places. Utilizing visualization has helped me succeed. When I was climbing and snowboarding the Seven Summits, I’d always have a photo of the summit of my next mountain. And every day I would look at that photograph and visualize myself taking the last steps to the top. I’d think about how the snow would feel on my face and which direction the wind was blowing. I’d feel the sun and let myself feel the joy of success.
Lessons I Have Learnt | Don’t take things personally. Always do your best. If you can believe it, you can achieve it. Find a mentor. Ask for what you want. Be kind to yourself and others, including animals. You don’t have to take what others say about you on at all. Be like silicon and let anything negative others say about you slide off. And conversely, let the positive things stick and sink into your heart. Be great. Don’t shrink for the sake of others. You are enough, now and now. There is only this moment. Seize it by following your heart and passion. Where there is a will there is a way. Be willful towards achieving your dreams/goals.
Dealing With Doubt | When I feel self-doubt creeping in I try to think of what I have, to focus on the positive things in my life, my health, my children, the beauty of nature, the unconditional love of an animal. I had great fear when I was in an avalanche that carried me 2,000′ down a mountain. I had a broken back, torn ligaments in both knees. I was alone and had to spend the night on the snow without warm clothing or shelter. I survived by breathing, by focusing on my breath. I also took my survival one step at a time. What is the most important thing I have to do at this moment? I broke my survival down to small steps and took them one at a time based on importance.
My Future Dreams And Ambitions | I’d like to write a book and start a talk radio show. They are both in the works.
The Meaning Of Life | To be happy by being kind to yourself and others/all beings.
The Best Advice I’ve Received | That I didn’t have to take personally what others say and to assume the best. When we assume the best we are usually correct. Keep it positive.
On Inspiring Others | By sharing your passion and empowering others by letting them do things, including falling down (so they can learn from the experience and be better for it).
The Legacy You Would Like To Leave | That I was a kind and passionate person who allowed his children to learn how to make good decisions by letting them fall down (learn by making mistakes) and the value and way to get back up (keeping positive and knowing that any setback is only temporary and can be overcome).