Where Do We Become Stuck?
Perhaps in life it’s easier to recognize the times when we’re lost or stuck. I recently went on a hike with my long-time hiking buddy, Dawna.
Originally a group of us were going to do the Boulder 5-Peak Traverse, which would require us to leave a second car at the parking lot for the fifth peak’s trailhead, so we’d have a way to get back to our starting point to retrieve the first car.
For various reasons it ended up being only myself and Dawna for the hike. We decided to hike in and summit the first (and tallest) of Boulder’s Five Peaks, cross a “saddle” (think a ridge) to a second peak, and then hike back to our original starting point. This allowed us to stick together and enjoy our bonding time instead of separating in different cars.
The powerful and normally helpful Google led us to a trailhead that seemed much farther out than what Dawna remembered from a prior climb of Bear Peak, however it’s not uncommon for mountains to have multiple approaches.
Lesson One: If your gut’s telling you something might not be right, you should listen to it.
We’re always up for a new adventure or a trail we haven’t walked before, so we went for it.
Once on the trail, we encountered a surprising lack of direction to Bear Peak. Multiple trail markers beckoned us to Shadow Canyon, Fern Canyon, Shanahan Trail, Bluestem, and others. NONE of these gems said, “Turn here and save yourself a long lot of trouble getting to Bear Peak!”
Lesson Two: if you’re going to try a different route, do your research first.
We finally ran into some folks coming in from a different trail. We asked where they were headed. “Bear Peak” was their reply. “Okay, well then we’re going to follow you.” In reading up afterwards, apparently the steep elevation gain we were set to experience rivals another climb, I’ve now done twice, the Manitou Incline which has over 2,000 vertical feet elevation in a mile there. Turns out the direction we took on Bear Peak is 3,000 vertical feet in 1.5 miles!
Wow is all I can say, and ouch is all my quads were saying two days later.
This amount of steep climb will lead you to start questioning whether you want to keep going. It’s acceptable to quit at any time on a climb, for any reason. We respect Mother Nature, we listen to our bodies, we use common sense.
As I’m having this internal dialogue, Dawna looks at me and says, “You know a friend of mine who was a Navy Seal really helped me when he said I need to learn to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”
Now you have to know Dawna – this is the same woman who likes to ask, “But did you DIE?” at the end of a good workout where some folks might be groaning from their effort – but her statement woke me up. Was my body in pain, or was I just feeling uncomfortable?
Lesson Three: Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
I checked in with my body. No pain, just discomfort, and the discomfort was coming more from my head than my body. I looked up the trail and mentally committed – onward!
The final part of this climb involves multiple scrambles (part loose rocks, part climb with your hands and not just walk with your feet), and straddling a ridge – yes, when the footholds made for tall people aren’t adequate, you just go ahead and straddle it.
However, I’d already had the shift, I wasn’t in pain, I was getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.
I persevered and reached the summit where I kissed the survey marker. We then sat for a bit, took in the view, and ate some lunch.
By the way, if you go up, you must come back down. You can’t hang out up there forever. The good news is, if you were going mostly up, then returning is mostly down. Steep downs use different muscles than steep ups, so that’s also a special experience. Uncomfortable, but not painful.
We were sure we’d paid very close attention to exactly where we had turned to get on the right trail to Bear Peak. But things look different when you’re coming at them from the opposite direction, and we missed our turn. The hike got longer. But hey, we were happy! The trail we originally started on came into view, and we knew we were headed to our destination, even if it was a longer return.
Lesson Four: Sometimes the route changes, but if you have a clear destination, you’ll achieve the goal.
I’m really glad we went. And I’m grateful for every misstep.
Whatever you may be facing, in business or in life, there is always something to be learned.
Take a step back, pause in the moment, course correct if needed, and then keep moving forward!
Growing requires something different than what you’re doing today, and that difference may make you uncomfortable. That hike certainly tested me mentally in new ways. And it will forever change how I approach hikes, as well as new ventures. Think about the last challenging situation you were in. What did you learn? How did you course correct? What can be implemented going forward as a result?
When we conduct planning days with clients, we like to ask these questions in all eight facets of the business:
What’s not working?
Plans can then be made for change, improvement, or continuation of a good thing.
Four Lessons from the Mountain:
1. Trust your gut.
2. Research before going in a new direction.
3. Get comfortable being uncomfortable.
4. It’s okay to change the route if your destination remains clear.