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Get your head into the clouds

We’re told to get our head out of the clouds whenever we need to achieve clarity of purpose. This is generally good advice, but I’ve found in recent years some of my best business insights come when I get my head into the clouds at the American Lung Association’s Fight for Air Climb.

The Fight for Air Climb is a unique and inspiring event that raises funds to fight lung disease. Participants “climb” up 1,034 steps (47 floors, 94 flights) to the top of the U.S. Bank Center in downtown Milwaukee. At the top you’re at the tallest point in the state – among the clouds and amidst a cheerful (albeit winded) group of fellow climbers.

Some people climb in memory of a lost family member, others to test their personal fitness, and still others just to find a way to shake off the winter blues. No matter what the reason, everyone at the event is united in the common goal of improving health.

Anthem's own 2015 Fight for Air Climb team.
Anthem’s own 2015 Fight for Air Climb team.

The American Lung Association holds Fight for Air Climbs across the country and for the past two years Milwaukee has been the top event of its kind. Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield has supported the Fight for Air Climb since it began in 2008 and in just a few years we’ve seen it grow from a small group of committed individuals to thousands avid climbers. Last year more than 3,000 people took on the stairs in Milwaukee, raising more than $700,000 to support the American Lung Association’s services and programs.

For me, the Fight for Air Climb is not only a way to give back to our community, but it’s also personally rewarding. In fact, every year I leave the event with a new life lesson. Here are a few things I’ve gleaned from the stairs that you can apply to your business.

Having a clear vision of the future makes the tough times easier. “I’ve got how many floors left?!?” There comes a point in every stair climb when you wish you were done and have to keep powering on. Sound like any projects around your office? The Fight for Air Climb has taught me that having a well-defined goal really does make it easier to put things in context and find the energy you need to finish. Having 25 floors left sounds intimidating, but when you think of it as being more than half done, it’s not that bad.

Empowering individuals leads to team success. Not everyone can or wants to climb more than 1,000 stairs. That’s fine and it doesn’t mean they can’t still contribute to the overall success of the team. In fact, we’ve found that when we expanded the number of ways people could get involved in the event, we got more people to participate. Those who donate to and volunteer at the Fight for Air Climb are just as special as the climbers. In short, letting people contribute their unique talents in their own ways makes us all stronger.

Helping others helps the team. When you come upon a teammate in the stairwell, you can tell with a quick glance whether they are struggling or doing well. At that time, you have to decide if you’re going to slow your pace and help them out, or continue your charge to the top. Those who stop to help their friends (or total strangers) find that the joint success of reaching the top together is far better than making it alone. One can’t but help think that this mindset could go a long way around the office

The 2016 Climb takes place on March 19 at the US Bank Center in Milwaukee. I invite you to get your friends, family and company involved. The goal for this year’s Climb is $750,000, to be raised through both corporate sponsorships and individual fundraising. All Climbers pay a registration fee of $25 and then raise an additional $100 through fundraising activities. Registration and information for the Milwaukee Climb are available here or by calling the American Lung Association at 262-703-4200.

See you at the top!




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Nobile is a 20-year veteran of the insurance industry whose experience includes time with Rush Prudential Health Plans, Aetna, and United Healthcare. Prior to joining Anthem, Nobile served as the Director of Sales and Account Management for the Midwest region at UniCare, a health benefits company based in Chicago and owned by Anthem’s parent company and also ran UniCare’s Eastern Region with offices.

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