I went hiking with the local hiking club the other day.
We crossed the Tzena gorge.(where is that?) My husband took our children to an amusement park in a nearby town so I thought I could put this me time to good practice!
Although I love hiking and it used to be one of my favourite pastimes,it's been a long time since I last did that;raising four kids and running a business doesn't leave one with much free time in their hands!
The hiking trip itself was challenging,fun and inspiring. (You can see pictures or it here)More than that,it gave me food for thought.
If it is a fact that 'The way you do anything is the way you do everything",then every challenging and fun endeavour,like running a business or landing a new job,is a lot like a hiking trip.Here are a few of the life lessons applying to hiking and just about anything else that I'd love to share with you:
1.Pick a job,business or hobby that you love,one that makes your heart leap with joy
I used to go hiking a lot as a kid and a teenager.My father was a nature lover.He would take me to long excursions in the country.One of my fondest memories is of him talking to knightingales;he would spot a tree were one of those shy birds was hiding and hold a nice conversation: 'Sing to me!Good!Now more!A different tune!'The bird would always oblige,as if spellbound,loving the idea of an audience!
When my father died my oldest brother (ten years my senior) took over.He is a geologist and he would take me on excursions to hunt for fossils.He'd explain to me how everything we saw around us was actually under the sea millions of years ago and how I could spot a fossilised shell among other rocks,washed downhill by rains and erosion.He still has some of the ones we found back then.
So I always had a soft spot for hiking.What about you?Maybe outdoor activities aren't your thing.
Pick an activity,a job or a business idea that makes your heart sing.And if you can't have the job or business of your dreams,(I know,there's unemployment,a family to feed,a future to think of,the usual stuff),you can always turn that one into a hobby.Then go for it,as often as you can get away with it.Call it your soul-soothing medicine and let joy be your guiding post!
2.Be well prepared.Do your homework before embarking on it
Whether it's a new job,business or hobby,it is better to be over than under prepared.
When our hiking group leader asked me to bring an extra pair of shoes and an extra change of clothes with me I first thought it was an unnecessary precaution but I did follow his advice anyway.Boy,am I glad I did it!I lost my balance once while crossing the gorge and waded knee-deep into the water.Thank God for the extra pair of trainers and tracksuit I had with me that kept me from catching my death of a cold!
The same applies to a new job or business.Research things,ask around,go over to your new boss or co-worlers (or fellow hikers in my case)and ask for advice.And be humble and clever enough to follow it.
3.You'll need a role model,a mentor and a guardian angel
You'll be needing a role model to whet your appetite and make your aspirations look feasible to you (if they did that stuff,then so can I).Pick someone relevant with whom you share common things,characteristics or traits so that the associations are stronger in your mind.
You'll be needing a mentor to give you the initial push,guide you through traps and mishaps along the way,offer valuable insights on how to go about things and keep you from falling into desperation mode when you are going through a rough patch.Remember,you don't get to find your mentors,they find you(when the student is ready...)
Be grateful for your mentors and guides,no matter what their mentoring style is.My business mentor is kind,considerate and always has an encouraging word for me.Our hiking group leader was relentless,merciless and no-nonsense.I am grateful for both because they helped me get the job done.Show gratitude to your mentors and make sure you get to mentor other people yourself when the opportunity arises so that you can repay your carmic debt.
You'll be needing a guardian angel to help you with practical stuff as problems and difficulties arise.Maybe they'll lend you money when you desperately need it,put in unpaid working hours or volunteer to carry your backpack for you when your legs are trembling from the exertion of climbing uphill for too long for your fitness level,like a fellow hiker,Yannis,did for me.These people are literally Godsent,the universe's way of letting you know that it is on your side and that everything will turn out right in the end.
4.If you ever fall down,there are only three options available
a.you laugh your head off seeing the comical side of it,get up,brush yourself up(or change shoes and pants in my case) and get going back on track
b.stay right where you are feeling totally mortified,whinning and crying and mumbling things like 'Why would this have to happen to me of all people?I'll never be able to get up again.I'm so unlucky and worthless!'
c. get so discouraged that you decide to give up,quit or go back because you are convinced that you won't be able to finish this anyway.
I'm so glad I chose the first option with both my hiking fall and business mistakes (which I'll still be doing anyway,but hopefully not the same ones!)
By the way,the number of times you fall are in direct proportion to your arrogance.I was too confident about my bold and fearless attitude when it came to crossing the most slippery of rocks and I so I committed a hybris which in turn attracted the wrath of the Gods.My spectacular fall was inevitable and it taught me a lesson in humility.My only consolation though was that I was not the only one to receive that cosmic lesson!
5.Don't be so driven and uptight that you stop having fun or noticing the beauty around you
OK,being driven and setting goals is important.
But if you keep at it like a maniac,never stopping to catch your breath,admire the scenery,celebrate your achievements,appreciate the people that are in it together with you or enjoy the moment,then you are depriving yourself of life's little pleasures.The soft carpet of moss,that party at work,the precious moment with a like-minded person,they are all there for you to relish and give thanks for.Relax more,enjoy more and be more grateful.
6.The reason why others are better than you is not because they are lucky,it's because you suck
Envying other people's success or money or achievements or level of fitness will not get you anywhere.No,she did not get that bonus because she was kissing the boss' ass.She just worked harder than you.No,he did not sell all those ebooks because he was in the right place at the right time.He just built a better site than you.And no,other hikers could not keep a better pace than me because they were younger.I was just terribly out of shape and in great need of exercising more.
Repeat after me: 'I don't get to be as successful as the people I envy because,compared to them,I suck!'
Don't despair though.There is still hope!It goes like this:
-You realise that you suck and start doing something about it
-You start sucking less
-You no longer suck and people start envying you
7.Perseverence and determination will always see you through once the going gets tough
Just don't give up.Never ever.No matter how tired or fed up you are.Just.Do.It
8.The most difficult part always comes right before you are about to arrive
No comment here.But you'll need to remember that one when you've run out of patience and there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel.Things will look up.You just have to keep at it a little bit longer.
9.It is never about arriving,it is always about the journey
This was the sight that awaited for us at the end of our hiking trip:
Although it was a feast for our eyes and I wouldn't miss it for the world,the hiking itself was a far more rewarding and rich experience than the five minutes I spent admiring the lake once we've arrived.That promotion,the number of subscribers you are after or that big amount of money in your account are OK,but equally important is the journey that gets you there.
And noone illustrates this better than the famous poet Kavafis in his Ithaka poem
10.The things you learn about yourself and the person you become along the way are worth far more than anything you'd ever get from it
photos from here
Love,peace and fun