My first thought as I watched the climber on the National Geographic channel move slowly but steadily upward was how terrifying it would be to pause and look down. A fall would mean certain death. Even with all the right safety gear and training, there are still a number of uncontrollable risks--rock slides, bad weather, a faulty anchor. And what if you got stuck, unable to find a hold?

That’s precisely why I would never make a good climber. If you’re going to embark on that kind of enterprise, you can’t think about anything except how your next move will bring you closer to the peak.

I couldn’t help but ponder all the individuals and business owners who are hanging on by a few ropes. The climb over the last few years has been strenuous, exhausting and even excruciating at times. Although the recession is supposed to be over, we’re nowhere near a summit. The path ahead is still daunting. It would be easy to be gripped by frustration or fear. But the most successful professionals don’t waste time thinking about the possibility of failure. They’re too busy looking for the next crack or crimp, and they’re determined to grasp it, even it if seems out of reach.

One example is Welaptega Marine’s Tony Hall, who is not a surveyor but whose story on page 38 exemplifies the “big picture” mentality that he embraces. As the surveying profession moves swiftly toward the 3D world, there are lessons to be learned from a firm adept in 3D precision measurement and data analysis that constantly seeks business and technology ideas from other industries. Hall’s insights, which we’ve also captured as a multimedia presentation available, are applicable to any professional seeking advancement.

John Matonich (page 12) is another figure to watch. His careful research, nimble networking and confidence in the future have enabled his Michigan-based firm to remain successful despite the significant economic challenges of the last several years. My full video interview with Matonich, available online, is worth watching.

Then there’s Trent Keenan of Diamondback Land Surveying (page 14), who refused to let his crew stay stuck in the mud, literally or figuratively. Keenan is proof that attitude can have a huge impact.

Wherever you find yourself in your professional climb, I hope the articles and interviews in this issue and online offer inspiration.

Onward and upward.

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