3 Life And Business Lessons Hiking Teaches UsMay 23, 2017
In this and the previous post, I am sharing how my time outdoors often serves up subtle, and not so subtle, reminders of some of life’s simple lessons. While on the first day (see post here), I was reminded hiking is best guided by a map. On the second day, which I’ll dive into below, I was clearly reminded of an important hiking safety lesson: hike in pairs.
Peace, presence, and clarity. It was one of those rare moments when all stress, anxiety, and busyness of thought faded, and I was truly present to soak up one of the most special experiences. I was on Roan Mountain hiking the Appalachian Trail with my family. The view along this five-mile in-and-out hike is a 360-degree view of countless mountain peaks and surrounding valleys. For a few moments, I experienced calm and wonderment on what felt like the top of the world.
What I haven’t mentioned was up to that point, the hike had been anything but picturesque or ideal. And my mindset… well, it was the farthest from peaceful, present or clear. On the contrary, the start of the hike was fraught with challenges and a great deal of doubt, anxiety, and at one point, defeat.
Hiking with three kids, one of which I carried in a backpack, already presents its share of challenges, but with freezing temperatures and unobstructed wind gusts, we had a perfect storm. Within 10 feet of the trailhead, my youngest was shocked, as evidenced by screaming and utter dissatisfaction. In looking back on that moment and the following events, I was humbly reminded of three important lessons.
1. Hike in Pairs
By the time we reached the top of the first bald, my youngest son had become inconsolable. I was stressed, frustrated, disappointed, and was practically waving the white flag of surrender. Enter my wife, who was able to achieve what seemed like the impossible: she successfully consoled my son with the perfect balance of calm, distraction, hugs, and snacks. Even when he refused to let me carry him, she insisted on carrying him in the backpack for the remaining 4.5 miles of the hike.
One of the first rules of hiking safety is to hike in pairs; have a buddy system. The same is true in life and business. Just as I was overwhelmed with stress and anxiety and even ready to admit defeat, my partner (my wife) was calm and stepped in to carry the weight (literally and figuratively) so we could share the experience we had been anticipating and continue our journey.
2. Who you hike with is just as important as where you hike
Inevitably, we all encounter challenges and periods of self-doubt. During these times, we will need to lean on a trusted partner to help us realize our goals, to achieve what would otherwise be or feel impossible alone. I am blessed to have a wife as a partner, but she is one of many partners to pick me up along the way.
At Inflammo, my partner, Drew, challenges me to be creative in our pursuit to deliver a remarkable client experience and provides a resolute reminder that our goal is to be light for others. And with Leah’s encouragement, I have now written two posts on a topic I was initially reluctant to share.
So what makes a great partner? Some of my best partners are those who have invested the time to get to know me. In doing so they recognize the times to encourage and the times to challenge. They aren’t afraid to call me out, but they are the first to empathize. They support, mentor and inspire. But it wouldn’t be hiking in pairs if we didn’t reciprocate. I, too, have to invest that same energy in my partners as they do in me.
3. Be a humble hiker
Many of us have family, friends, mentors, and trusted advisors to be a “hiking” partner along life’s journey. While having a partner is important, it is equally important to have the awareness and humility to know you cannot go at this all alone. I personally struggled with pride on that mountaintop. Thankfully, I was able to put my pride aside and share a memorable experience with my family and hiking partners.
I have to remind myself to be a humble hiker… to know when and how to set aside the pride and embrace the journey with those around me. I have come to believe only then can we find those moments of peace, presence, and clarity.
P.S. It’s not lost on me the valuable other lesson I learned is more of a personal reminder… behind every good man is a great woman.
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