The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and Appalachian Trail (AT) are getting more well-known with the number of people hiking them and writing books about their experience.
I have to say, I find it annoying. For a couple reasons:
- My boyfriend, Mike, and I hiked the PCT in 2001, we spent 4 months thru-hiking it from California to Oregon (my trail name was Yurtle the Turtle – I was a pretty slow hiker by PCT standards!) It was an awesome trip, and that amazing guy asked me to marry him on the shoulder of Half-Dome in Yosemite. Yes! While the trail was well known-it wasn’t quite as commercialized as it is today. The people who were writing about the trail were folks who loved hiking and being outdoors, not folks who had no experience hiking who were going in order to write a book about it.
- I wish I had written the damn book.
…But I didn’t write the book, and truth be told I didn’t ever intend to write a whole book about my experiences and what I learned. But today I’m feeling inspired and I thought I would share some insights I got while walking 16-20 miles a day at 3 miles an hour for months on end because these have influenced me greatly over the years especially in business:
- Only carry what you absolutely need. AND it’s ok to take along a few things that make life cleaner and more enjoyable (wet wipes anyone?).
- Never quit at the end of the day. Mike reminded me of this recently. A good night’s sleep can turn you right around and those feet which hurt so badly the night before are ready to roll the next day.
- Regret is useless. So is feeling guilty about all the people you left behind, or who were jealous of you because “you’re lucky you get to take time off” or “it must be nice to take that much time off” or whatever other opinion they had. [It wasn’t luck, it was a dream planned and executed].
- Never listen to people coming from the other direction when they tell you “You’re almost there!”; “just around the corner!”; “It’s only about a 1/4 mile!” People, even people who have just been there, are notorious for over or under-estimating distances and the amount of time it takes to get somewhere. You’ll get there when you get there. Just keep moving.
- Thru-hiking is 10% physical and 90% mental. Same with business.
- You always get what you need when you need it. Trail Angels abound. (These are folks who help hikers with food, water, a ride, etc. and yes, they always showed up right when we needed it most!)
- Attachment sucks. I recall hearing about a rest area we’d be cruising through that apparently had a vending machine. I wanted a soda sooooo bad! I thought about that soda for hours leading up to it. When we got there the rest area was closed, and I never got the soda. I thought about it for hours afterwards. It sucked. [Ever have a sales conversation like that?]
- You’re capable of way more than you think, on far less food, water, sleep, than you imagine you need.
- Make love outdoors at least once in your life (preferably more!). In business, this means share your passion with others, allow them to see your vulnerability in the full sun of stage lights, and feel the connection that can happen when you allow yourself to let go.
- While the path is well-trodden with the imprints of those before you, it’s still your hike. Do it your way.
- Don’t be in such a hurry to get to the end that you miss all the beauty along the way.
- Nothing prepares you for hiking like hiking. We ran daily and did shorter hikes to prep ourselves for long days on the trail. It made no difference. We got our hiking legs from walking everyday, and those are different legs than short day-hike legs.
- Trust your gut. If a path feels like a dead-end, it probably is.
There’s a lot more here than I realized! I guess that I needed to spend some time following the path of my business before the insights I learned on the trail really made sense.
Maybe I will write the book after all 🙂
Which of the above insights rings most true for you? Please email me and let me know!!
Get out there and spend some time on a trail this week, and just remember the only way to get to your destination is to keep moving-even if it’s slowly.
Yurtle The Turtle