I recently listened to a podcast that continues to roll around in my head. The conversation was between the leader of my small business group, Deb Laflamme, and a Discovery Coach, Natasha Vanzetti (otherwise known as Tash). The topic of the podcast was about breaking through barriers both personally and professionally so that we are in the best possible position to achieve our biggest goals. One story that Tash shared was about going on a challenging hike with an enormous back pack. For the actual trek, she didn’t need half of the stuff she carried in her pack, but instead of re-grouping and lightening her load, she forged ahead and toughed it up to the summit with pounds on her back.
The backpack turned into a personal metaphor about her life and transitioning from one career to another. She had acquired so many skills throughout her initial career and felt compelled to bring all of these skills with her, even though some of them were no longer relevant. These skills gave her comfort and confidence, but instead of propelling her forward, she realized that holding onto the older version of herself felt heavy and cumbersome. She ultimately figured out how to move forward toward her new path and did so by dreaming big and celebrating each small step she took toward that goal. She took risks, lightened her load along the way, and is now working with many people to help them discover their best selves. Check out her website, follow her on Facebook and listen to what she has to say.
Over the holiday weekend, my daughter and I hiked Mount Monadnock. It was a completely spontaneous decision made around 2pm. I grabbed my husband’s pack, started loading it with every possible thing we might need, and then put more stuff into the pack, just in case. On this 85 degree day, I had two pairs of sweatpants, one sweatshirts, one fleece, one down jacket, hats, food, bug spray, eye drops, a battery for our phones and enough water for 10 people. The backpack weighed a ton, and I couldn’t help but replay Tash’s story over and over again during our five mile hike.
Here’s what I learned:
‘Safety First’ can be a bit overdone at times. We never touched the sweatpants nor did we come close to drinking one quarter of the water I carried that afternoon. Come to think of it, I didn’t need the fleece or the down jacket either. Take the time to think about what you might really need instead of automatically bringing everything. Sometimes, living cautiously only serves to hold you back from realizing your true potential.
A tiny bit of planning can go a long way. Had I slowed down just a bit when I packed the bag, I might have realized that not only did I over pack, I left out some key items. I overcompensated in the warmth department but missed the boat by not bringing any flashlights or matches. We got off the trail at 7:30pm, and it was starting to get dark. It was unsettling realizing we could have been in a dangerous situation had we not finished by sunset. The road toward success can be so much easier and less stressful when you take the time to make a plan.
Lean on the people around you. I carried the pack the entire hike even though my daughter offered numerous times to help. I was stubborn, and for whatever reason, didn’t want to burden her with the extra load. I felt like it was my decision to bring as much stuff as I did, and therefore it was my sole responsibility to carry it the entire way. The day after the hike my legs were wrecked, my knees ached as if I were close to 100 years old, and my ego was bruised as well. It didn’t have to be that way. I just needed to get out of my own way and accept the support being offered to me. While we may be able to do everything on our own, enlisting the help of others not only helps to lighten the load, it gives others the opportunity to participate and grow as well.
When the shit hits the fan, laugh. In many ways, I think this was the most important lesson for my daughter and me. I was so mad at myself for bringing so much stuff for such a short hike. I felt ridiculous. Each group of hikers we encountered made it that much worse, because they were outfitted with fanny packs or small backpacks. Not one other person had a behemoth of a pack like mine. The internal judgment turned into vocal comments the harder the hike became, and my daughter quickly picked up on my negativity. However, instead of joining me, she helped me see the humor in the situation. Every time she asked me ‘do you have…’, we both would answer it with ‘yep, we got that.’ I even did a backpack yoga pose, gently making fun of the monkey on my back.
Don’t ignore the scenery or forget to celebrate the wins. While there was plenty to berate myself for with the pack, there were infinitely more experiences along our hike that far ‘outweighed’ the monster pack issue.
Finding our way after getting lost…twice.
The incredible views from the summit.
The sense of accomplishment that comes with sweaty clothes, shoes covered with mud, and pants (mine) adorned with leaves and small twigs.
The rejuvenating power of nature.
The gift of participating in something bigger than each of us.
A memorable experience with my daughter that neither of us will forget for a long time.
We can’t go back in time and change that which has already happened. What we can do, however, is learn from the past, grow, pivot, and dare to pack differently the next time.
Many thanks to DL & NV for your words of wisdom.