160: Meghan Buchanan: This Wonder Woman is a Rocket Science and climbing the Seven Summits but had to overcome her adversities to get there. Now she is inspiring others with her GGRIT!

July 17, 2020

Meghan Buchanan

Being that Meghan Buchanan was all set to climb Mt. Everest before COVID-19, what was it like to have that massive goal put on hold? “When you are training so hard for it and you feel like you are ready, you look back and you realize that it has been a lifetime of training. Mentally, emotionally, and then there is the physical, and when Nepal made the answer, I literally got my down suit like that night and then I heard that Nepal had shut everything down. I literally felt like I was wearing my wedding dress and my wedding just got canceled.”

On this episode of Finding Your Summit Podcast, we talk with Meghan Buchanan, Rocket Scientist, Aerospace Engineer, Athlete, and Public Speaker about the aftermath of her Mt. Everest journey being put on hold. “I’m very good at realizing what you can and cannot change, and this was something I absolutely knew I wasn’t going to be able to talk my way around it out through it, and I couldn’t change it. So, I woke up Saturday morning like, alright, let’s make Plan B. So, yeah, it’s disappointing. But everything happened so fast with the pandemic and the lockdowns. Any sadness I was feeling was completely run over by so much worse for so many others. So, how am I doing? I feel so grateful to have a job that allows me to work from home right now. I’m so grateful to be in this country and us not being stuck in Nepal where they couldn’t take care of us if we were there.”

What You Will Learn:

Meghan Buchanan discusses how she has benefited from her resilience while having integrity. “The dyslexia, as a child, I think really built my foundation of who I am in the core of having that resilience and the perseverance to push through things. As a kid, we discovered I was dyslexic, because I actually had a second grade teacher who did not like me. He was not a good man and he would yell at me in front of the class. That’s when you’re learning to spell. I actually started reading when I was 3. I started programming a computer when I was 5. But I couldn’t spell and I was having a lot of problems. He would chastise me in front of the class. Call me an idiot. Call me retarded, yell at me to the point that I refused to read.”

How was Meghan equipped to rebound from her dyslexia? “What my memory is, is my mom looking at me saying, ‘You don’t believe anyone else. You are just going to have to work harder for everything that you want, and we start right now. It was really the foundation then of my parents never letting me use it as an excuse and to just fight harder for what I wanted. I think it just became a way of life for me to push through.”

Meghan Buchanan talks about some of the adult figures outside of her household that didn’t believe in her dreams. “It is hard as a kid when you know you are smart. But it is not reflected in your writing. It is not reflected in your spelling and you are labeled, and going through high school. I’m also quite bubbly. You can tell, and cheerleading, and all of those types of things.  But I remember, I was top 10 in my class in high school and I wanted to be an aerospace engineer. I remember my counselors at the time telling me, ‘Oh honey, you could marry well, or you should go into communications.’ I’m like, ‘I took the highest math class in my junior (year). What? Forget you guys. I’m doing this.”

What is her advice to others working in highly competitive environments? “Stop tearing each other down. It is hard enough out there. This goes for anyone, there will always be someone prettier, funnier, smarter, faster, whatever it is. There will always be someone. Have those people surround you. Help lift those people. Work together.  I think people are so afraid of losing control over their little bubble that they have to just trounce over other people.”

How should people approach the overwhelming efort that is needed to get involved in mountainclimbing? “When you think of an entire mountain, it is overwhelming. You know how it is when you arrive, remember? You fly over Denali, and you are like, wow, holy crap. But, I teach people, you need to bring it down to, like you said, that one step at a time. When you are in the middle of it, right now, what I’m trying to help friends with is, if you start thinking about the trickle-down effect, months down the road, you are going to get overwhelmed. You need to be concentrating on one step in front of the other and just keep moving forward.”


Meghan Buchanan’s mantra, ‘GGRIT’ stands for Gratitude, Growth, Resilience, Integrity and Tenacity. “I really built G.G.R.I.T. because I realised what those tools are that helped me take on any challenge. I don’t care what it is, and there are times where I’m like, wow, I bit off a lot there. But I knew I could get through it and I knew I had such support from my parents growing up, and I wanted to put that together to help give to other people.”

Rising Above a Snowboarding Accident

During this episode of Finding Your Summit Podcast, Meghan Buchanan also talks about overcoming a life-changing snowboarding accident that led to a 14-inch titanium rod in the middle of her femur bone, being told by doctors that she will be in a wheelchair for the rest of her life. “Sorry, that is not going to be my life, and it was a tremendous struggle. I had to change careers. I had to leave my job at Lockheed Martin that I loved. I ended a relationship that I thought was the one. It changed a lot and I had to dig deeper in myself than I ever have to keep positive. I was in 24-7 horrible pain.”

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