The Mount Everest Syndrome

The top of Mt EverestAre you climbing Mt. Everest? If you are, you will need the finest equipment available. If you are climbing a small hill near your home, you may not need that quality of equipment.

This basic principle should guide how you spend your money. We all love perfection. Many of us like to have the finest stuff we can afford. But ask yourself, do I really need that good a thing? Do I need my whatever to last 500 years when I’ll only live to 70 or 80?

Save your money. Understand that if you have kids, they may not want to inherit that thing after you die. It probably will be obsolete then, even if it will last another 430 years. And if it’s not obsolete, it will probably be hopelessly out of style, at least for three or four fashion cycles.


1. Some people have this syndrome more than others. It’s partially a function of personality type. I have the personality type that is prone to this. If you know someone who has this tendency, help them fight it. One symptom might be watching them buy a 4WD vehicle that can scale Mt. Everest, when they live in a flat part of Kansas.

2. I wrote about this before, in other terms: What once held value on this blog and What once held value on my old blog.

3. There are other references to this syndrome, though the Wikipedia definition reflects a slightly different beast. I’d also guess that it’s a symptom of OCD.


Frustration with wanting perfection


My family got me a lovely present for Christmas… custom design-my-own stamps from It took me a while to figure out which image to use. I finally settled on something from my Rubbish Art series.

So I got them back and they weren’t perfect. The image was offset, even though it had appeared perfectly via the website interface. I thought I might send them back, but then I realized they probably wouldn’t get it right the second time. Then I thought of getting a refund. (It was easy enough to do.) In the end, Heather convinced me to keep them and use them.

So, my frustration? That I wasn’t happy with less than perfection. Being picky is sometimes a good thing. In this case it wasn’t.