Sometime in 1999 when I was the Group Business Director for a major blue chip company in Malaysia, responsible for the swift, effective and timely collection of somewhere around $80 million a year (Probably more), I popped into a shop to buy something or another that I needed. I was on my lunch break.

It was nearing the end of the month. This was the time when there was immense pressure to get what needed to be done, done; namely, hit the collection target for the month. These last few days were frantic to say the least. I would be calling round my senior managers to ensure the figures they had projected would be met. I had Owners to answer to on the 1st of the month.

So as you can gather I was in somewhat of a hurry to buy whatever it was. I waited as patiently as I could in the queue. When it was my time to be served, the young lady behind the counter had stopped moving. She was examining a finger like it was about to fall off, her face bearing the look of a concerned surgeon. Each moment in that queue was a moment lost doing what needed to be done for me. I asked her if she could kindly serve me with a sense of urgency.

My mountain to climb could be your molehill

My mountain to climb could be your molehill

She then informed me that I would have to wait because she had just broken a fingernail. She looked deeply upset. It was like it was the end of her world, temporarily.

I was screaming to myself inside. “A broken finger nail? A Beep…beeep….beep…broken fingernail? Is that ALL you have to worry about? Would you like to swap places with me?”

Fast Forward to the Present day…

As some of you may know, I have recently migrated back to the UK and have had to leave my beautiful wife behind-for the time being. That has left me having to face my biggest pet peeve. Moving. Not the actual move itself, but you know, dealing with utilities and the like.

For the past 3 weeks I have been communicating with the gas, electricity, water and ‘phone companies and everyone else that goes with moving into a new house. Calling those numbers where they keep you waiting for what seems like hours. Filling in online forms, dealing with the not-so-helpful (and the helpful), customer service staff. Arranging for my stuff to get through HM Customs, unpacking, buying, unpacking and buying more stuff. Arranging furniture from Ikea to be delivered and spending a whole day waiting indoors when I had other things to view (They couldn’t give me a definitive time). Waiting in for my internet to be connected. And waiting for the guy’s to come and assemble my furniture.

For me this is a mountain to climb. It is my everest. I have never had to do all of these niggly things before, I have always left them in other hands. If she was here, my lovely Haslina would be taking care of it all for me. Oh I do miss her. But not just for the reasons I am stating here. Honest.

These are the tasks that I can procrastinate over more than anything else. I still do them of course (After umpteen messages from Haslina), but I do delay slightly.

Now these undertakings may not be a biggie for you. You would probably get it all done in a day. It has taken me three weeks. Yes, three whole weeks.

What can be my mountain may well be your molehill; and what is your mountain could be my molehill.

Try and remember that when you come across someone who is facing a difficulty. It may seem miniscule to you but in their view of the world it could be massive. This may seem obvious and maybe it is to you. Yet so often you will hear one say of another who is facing a challenge, “Oh you are making mountains out of molehills” 

In NLP part of the criteria we are taught to do that: Respect the other person’s model of the world.

But I learnt that valuable lesson from the young lady with a broken fingernail all those years ago. To her, that drama of the day was her particular mountain of the moment and by all accounts, the rest of the evening. It made me realise and appreciate that other peoples’ problems that may seem trivial to one can be huge to another.


I referred to my ‘mountain’ as way of reference. You may (Or may not) have noticed that is all I used in my references. There was no other negative language associated with my pet peeve. I did not refer to it as a ‘nightmare’, a ‘never-ending headache‘, ‘extremely stressful’  or that it ‘makes my blood boil‘ or that I ‘hate it with a passion‘.

If I was to use such language it would only make my mountain seem bigger and the experience worse than it actually is. The language you use is very powerful. Watch how you refer to your ‘pet peeves’ ( Expression taken from Tony Robbins, I think?) next time you are facing something.

The other point I wish to make is that although this experience is way beyond the current boundary of my Familiar Zone, looking back it wasn’t all that difficult. Facing up to our ‘mountains’ makes them seem far less higher than what they actually are. And when I move next time I will be far more well equipped to handle it all. Super.

Which reminds me, I still need to call the water board…a small mountain that is slowly turning into an even smaller molehill…