As a boy in New Zealand, Edmund Hillary dreamed of becoming a mountain climber. As a young man, he set his sights on Mount Everest, at 29,029 feet, the world’s highest peak, and one that no one had ever successfully summited.
His first attempt to conquer Everest in 1951 ended in failure.
Defeated, he faced his investors, the London Explorers Club, who had lost all their money. He stood at the podium in front of a projected picture of Everest and said, “I will defeat you, Everest, because you cannot get any bigger–but I can.” Two years later, on his second attempt to defeat Everest, Hillary and his Sherpa guide, Tenzing Norgay, reached the summit of Everest at 11:30 AM on May 29, 1953. The conquest of Everest was announced on the eve of Elizabeth II’s coronation, and the new queen knighted Hillary when he returned to Britain.
Edmund Hillary had the imagination to envision an outcome that had previously been viewed as impossible by a large percentage of the world’s population. Equally important, he was consumed by a drive to fulfill his vision that would possess him until he got big enough to accomplish that feat.