Lauren Reed is a first-year professor at Lipscomb University, owner of her own PR agency, ultramarathon runner and now a mountain climber.
Professor Reed teaches Intro to Public Relations at Lipscomb while she successfully runs her PR agency, Reed PR.
On the first day of class, Professor Reed told us she would be leaving in September to hike Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa. Everyone had questions and concerns about her trip, but I got to sit down with her after her journey to talk about everything from hiking and heartbreak to human nature.
“This is my first time ever doing something like this but I knew I wanted to do it.” Reed said, “This very spur of the moment. I’m not a climber, and hiking is very new to me.”
Reed is a member of the Entrepreneur Organization, or EO, a group of successful business owners. There was the talk amongst the group to go to Kenya to get some business insight on a local safari; a few discussed leaving a couple of weeks early to hike Kilimanjaro. This was the group she would later decide to climb with.
Six members of EO set out to hike Kilimanjaro, but only three made it to the summit. After long days filled with hiking and altitude sickness mounting, the summit was seeming more and more elusive. The night the group was supposed to reach the summit, Reed had to come off the mountain. After days of climbing to reach 15,400ft. above sea level and with 4,000ft. to go to reach the summit, she had to turn back to get to a lower altitude as soon as possible. The altitude sickness was too much to overcome.
Since learning about Reed’s adventures, I asked the burning question everyone was dying to know — “What was the biggest lesson you’ve learned out of this whole journey?”
“I just asked God to teach me something from this experience.” She replied, “I didn’t ask God to help me reach the summit of the mountain. I just wanted to grow, no matter the outcome. The biggest lesson was realizing how far I’ve come. We would hike for eight hours a day only looking forward, but at the end of the day, we turned around and could see we were above the clouds and realized how far we had come. Practicing self-gratification and just being thankful for the journey.”
In Reed’s day to day life, she balances a booming business, a marriage, children, and teaching.
She said, “As a woman, or a working woman, the pressure is always on you. You sit and think I could be doing this, or I should be doing something better, but at that moment, I knew I had come so unbelievably far. It was okay to be thankful for this journey.”
Even though she has only been back a few weeks, everything is entirely different for her. I asked her if there was a shift or anything unusual since being back, and she replied, “You can’t unsee the things you’ve seen on a trip like this. You come back different; you come back changed. I am not the same person.”
A big theme throughout her life has been “falling forward.”
Never let the fear of failure stop you from doing something. To quote Hilary Duff, “Never let the fear of striking out, keep you from playing the game.”
This trip helped Reed realize the powerhouse she is while still practicing gratitude in her day to day life. If you have a chance to hear about her incredible journey up the tallest freestanding mountain in the world, take the opportunity.