This weekend, I hiked Crowder Mountain in North Carolina for the second time. It was a walk in the park compared to my Himalayan paragliding adventures, but still, it was good exercise, and that’s mainly why I did it. That, and it gave me time to reflect and meditate on some of the decisions I’ve made over the last year.
As I climbed the trails to King’s Pinnacle Summit, I thought about where I am today compared to where I was a year ago. The lessons I’ve learned, the risks I’ve taken and the roads I’ve traveled and how they’ve shaped me as a person. And I came away with a few nuggets that I thought would be worth sharing with my readers.
1. Listen to Robert Frost. Take the road less traveled. There are two reasons why I advocate this.
First, since fewer people have walked this path, there is far less wear and tear. The tread on your shoes will be stronger and the road will be easier to grip. I realized this as I slipped on several steep hills on my way back down the mountain.
Second, since fewer people have walked this path, you get to pave the way. You get to make mistakes that others have not made. Mistakes that may be recorded in history and learned from by future generations. When you take the path that everyone else has already taken, you’re far less likely to make mistakes, because you’ve already learned from the ones that have been made in the past. You’re far less likely to fail. And we all know that in business, it’s only by allowing yourself to fail that you succeed.
2. Take time to enjoy the view. It’s easy to obsess over reaching your final destination, so much so that you forget to enjoy the journey and the view along the way. There is so much beauty in nature. Take time to breathe deeply and feel the wind as it rushes against your skin. And when you get to the top, eat a sandwich, relax, talk to a few of the other hikers and take your time before journeying back down the cliff.
As the saying goes, entrepreneurs can get so busy making a living that they forget to make a life. The same principle applies here.
3. The easy road often takes the longest. This is literally true if you look at the trails on Crowder Mountain. The longest trail is over 6 miles and it’s marked “easy”. One of the most strenuous paths I’ve walked was under a mile long, but it was a very difficult trail.
As an entrepreneur, it can be easy to let distractions get in the way of execution. It’s much easier to peruse Facebook than it is to write that blog you know you need to write or to do the work that needs to be done for you to move forward. We procrastinate. We find excuses. We take the easier trail, and it takes much longer to see the results and experience the success we long for.
4. Talk to other passersby. Build relationships. We are all in this together. We’re all climbing the same mountain, even if we take different paths to the top. If a storm hits and you forgot your umbrella, you’re going to want one to stand under.
No one ever built a business in complete isolation. If we’re going to be successful, we must be willing to network with and learn from other like-minded entrepreneurs, and to lend a hand when necessary.
5. Explore your options. When I neared the peak of King’s Pinnacle Summit, I noticed that most people were climbing those last few rocks to the top by way of one path. As a traveler with a dog, I knew I’d have to make the climb one-handed, with the pup in the crook of my other elbow, and I wasn’t sure the way that everyone else was going would be the best way for me to go.
Rather than simply following in their footsteps, I took an extra minute to look around and see if there was another way and saw two men climbing down a different path just a few feet away. The rock formation of that path was more conducive to a one-handed climb, so I went that way instead.
The moral of the story: take time to explore your options. Going along with my first point, the road less traveled is often the better one to travel.
It’s been an interesting year, and I’m preaching to the choir as I write these words. My struggles have mainly been avoiding distractions and failing to build relationships. As an introvert and a writer, I find it’s much more comfortable to isolate myself and make excuses. And when I do go hard, I get so busy that I often forget to take time to enjoy the view.
But no more. It’s time to get serious about my commitment to success. I hope this post helps encourage you as much as it has motivated me to start pressing forward even harder.