Alison Levine, author of On the Edge: The Art of High-Impact Leadership, was on the south summit of Mount Everest. She was so high that she had to take five to 10 breaths before each step when she realized that she and her team were in extreme danger.

Levine’s oxygen tank had malfunctioned, and a storm was approaching.

Even though she and her team were only 200 or so feet from the top of the highest mountain on earth, they turned around and started down the mountain. “It is important to plan, but take action based on the situation—not your plan,” she says.

Levine served as the team captain of the first American Women’s Everest Expedition, and she has climbed the highest peak on each continent. All of these experiences have taught her a number of lessons.

* Fear is okay. It is a good tool. It can keep you awake and on your toes.
* Every single person is in a leadership position. We all have to be looking out for each other.
* Storms are always temporary. Put a smile on your face. Do what you’re supposed to do.
* You can’t control the environment. You only can control how you react to it.

I heard Levine speak recently at the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas 2014 Women of Distinction Luncheon.