Posts filed under ‘Perserverance’

Leadership Lessons from a Dirty Double Crosser

Fifteen hours, all alone, crossing the Grand Canyon…twice, is a perfect opportunity for considerable reflection, if not hallucination. My recent Rim to Rim to Rim run across this Natural Wonder of the World and back was the fulfilling of a long held goal to run the 50 plus miles from the Bright Angel Trailhead on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon to the North Kaibab Trailhead on the North Rim…and then back, in one day. I knew it would be hard, having hiked the entire trail with friends five months earlier, but doing it all, twice, in one shot, running, would be a bit different. I wasn’t flying completely blind however, having completed several ultra marathons in recent years. Still, this would be no walk in the park, covering over 50 miles and climbing (and descending) over 11,000 ft., and with temperatures pushing ninety degrees during the day.

So back to reflection… There is no school better than the great outdoors for learning life lessons. And while some of the best lessons are the result of mistakes, in this case there weren’t many, as I was well prepared. Well, I guess that’s lesson one:If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear.” I’d made a [training] plan, based on previous ultras, I’d faithfully followed the plan, even when it wasn’t convenient or I didn’t feel like it, and all that training and preparation did indeed pay off, allowing me to complete my goal. The formula, plan, follow, succeed just works!

Ok, so not everything went perfectly. I did make a couple of mistakes: At about 15 miles in, I rounded a corner and to my horror there was a 20 ft. geyser coming up from the water pipe that feeds the seven water stations inside the canyon. I suddenly regretted my last minute decision the night before to remove my water purifier from my hydration pack! After all, the Park Service website said all stations were flowing! I still had the 9 hardest miles to the North Rim ahead and this might mean no more water ‘til the top! Could have been a disaster! Fortunately, the fountains were still flowing. Lesson two: Don’t doubt that inner voice!

The second mishap occurred shortly after the geyser where there’s a hill…a nasty annoying hill, that by itself is not terrible, but after several hours of running and anticipating the brutal 7 mile climb to the North Rim that still lay ahead, I was dreading it. Just before the hill there’s a faint path leading off the main trail to what I knew to be Ribbon Falls, a cool place to escape the sun and enjoy the fall’s cool mist for a few minutes. There’s also a sign at that intersection pointing ahead up the main trail to another trail and a bridge over Bright Angel Creek leading to Ribbon Falls. But I chose the first path thinking I could find a better, easier way across the creek and on to Ribbon Falls… Bad idea! After running into an impassable creek and bushwhacking for 20 minutes I came to the humble and a little bloody understanding of why they’d built a bridge. Lesson three: “Shortcuts make long delays” (thanks, J.R.R. Tolkien).

One more lesson – the climb up past Roaring Springs to the Supai Tunnel, and finally to the North Kaibab Trailhead on the North Rim was…REALLY hard! Add to that it was 11:30 am and full sun! Finally, when I hit the top I thought to myself “I’m done…totally spent…nothing left…NOTHING!” But there was this little issue of now being 26 miles from where I’d begun, and a wife on the South Rim waiting hard for my return seven hours later. No cell service, no way to get ahold of her…oh, and I’ve never quit anything before! So, I choked down another PROBAR, refilled and mixed my water, took one deep breath and headed back down…DOWN the canyon wall! If I hadn’t been there, I’d never have believed it was possible, but, and here’s lesson four: When the need is great enough, human potential exceeds all rational limits! A change in direction helps too!

Well, seven and a half hours later, after a beautiful but grueling day and still other lessons contemplated, I dragged myself up on to a now dark again South Rim, right back where I’d started and right into my wife’s arms! Just kidding – she had no interest in hugging this very dusty, dirty double [canyon] crosser!

 

 

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December 11, 2016 at 4:07 pm Leave a comment

Staying Centered

“If you change nothing, nothing will change”. This timeless truth inspires many to reach higher, work harder, and learn more. In this regard, change is good. On the other hand there are some who argue that all change is good, that all change is “progress”, and that nothing is sacred when it comes to change.

We live in a time of change – the most rapid change the world has ever seen! This can be good…and sometimes not so good. Either way, more change is coming, and with it more disruption and distraction than ever before. In the midst of all this commotion, it is easy to lose one’s bearings and to wander off.

Like yesterday’s seasoned explorers who depended on their maps and compasses, today’s most successful navigators of modern life are those who rely on their inner compass – a combination of conscience and timeless principles. But even for the most principled, staying on the path, and remaining centered is a challenge.

I recently read of an artisan who was asked to demonstrate his pottery skills to a group of young people who were instantly awestruck as he transformed lumps of clay into beautiful plates, bowls, and cups. He made it look so easy, that when he asked if any of the youth would like to try it they all volunteered.

One after another they tried, but none were successful as they awkwardly attempted to keep the clay from flying off the potter’s wheel and all over the room. The potter asked them if they knew why they were unsuccessful, to which they gave responses indicating a lack of experience, training, and talent. But the real reason they failed was that the clay was not centered on the wheel. They thought they had placed the clay in the center, but from a professional’s perspective, it wasn’t in the exact center. So he showed them again.

This time, the potter placed the clay in the exact center of the wheel and then started to turn it, making a hole in the middle of the clay. He then turned the wheel over to the youth, who excitedly were able to keep the clay on the wheel, and even create some crude bowls. Although they weren’t perfect, the outcome was vastly different than their first attempts. The difference being that this time the clay was perfectly centered on the wheel.

In a world where, like the potter’s wheel, the speed of change is increasing, it is vitally important that individuals, teams, and families remain centered on the timeless principles that keep them from being thrown off course. Principles like honesty, integrity, tolerance, perseverance, courage, responsibility, self-discipline, loyalty, quality work, and faith. Sound familiar?

Even these principles that we hold in common are being challenged by a world whose standards are being lowered and even abandoned all in the names of “change” and “progress”. Interestingly, holding firm and not giving in requires the exercise of the principles themselves – remaining honest, having integrity, being tolerant, persevering, having courage, being responsible, being disciplined and loyal, doing quality work, and being faithful. Not only does our success depend on it, but so does the success of those we lead.

So, stay centered, and…

Lead on!

Cliff

December 2, 2015 at 2:18 pm Leave a comment

I Have To!

When coordinating plans with others I’ve been known to say things like “I have to run 15 miles tomorrow”, “I have to get to bed early tonight”, or “I have to finish this project this weekend”. When I do, I’m often challenged by a friend who likes to say “You don’t HAVE to……you CHOOSE to!” and technically speaking, he’s right. But I keep saying it anyway… You see, I learned a long time ago that you can either decide how to respond to challenges or opportunities over and over again, depending on present circumstances, or you can make the decision just once, allowing that decision to become your personal standard – your “have to“!

If you take the flexible approach (“we’ll see how things are going” or “it depends”) there are too many variables and too many opportunities to derail you from doing the thing you once committed to doing. It takes discipline to make the hard but right choice, especially when the decision is to ALWAYS make the same choice. But when you do and the issue comes up again, there’s no hesitation or debate. You’re resolute – You “have to”!

Once you’ve decided, then your “have to‘s” take over, relieving you of the recurring decision cycle. And here’s the interesting thing – it’s not restrictive…it’s freeing! Once you’ve decided once and for all, when the alarm clock rings, you’re up – no debate. When someone offers you something you’ve sworn off, you decline – no debate. When being dishonest is tempting or seemingly profitable, you tell the truth – no debate! And when you do, you enjoy a feeling of freedom and empowerment.

Our choices determine our habits and our habits form our character. And as author and lecturer Hyrum Smith put it, “Character is the ability to carry out a worthy decision once the emotion of making that decision has passed.” It’s character-forming habits that help us overcome adversity, accomplish goals, and ultimately approach our individual potential.

When our choices reflect our deeply held values and they are made with sincere resolution, from that point on we simply “have to“. And as we do, we grow in character.
Lead on…

Cliff

July 6, 2015 at 11:52 am 6 comments

New Life Through New Eyes

Have you hit the wall? Do you feel like you’re “done”? Is the joy gone…in your work, a relationship, or your life in general? There comes a time in most lives where the joy and satisfaction that once filled and fueled them diminishes even to the point of crisis. When this happens the natural reaction is to run, to flee, to get away from whatever it is that’s moved from beautiful to drab or from exciting to boring. In extreme cases this can lead to divorce, unemployment, or worse. At a minimum it results in dissatisfaction, disharmony, and disengagement.

The interesting thing is that most people who resort to “flight” versus hanging in to “fight”, don’t ever really solve the problem. They may find temporary relief in “different”, but the tendencies that pushed them to the tipping point in the first place will take them there again and again. The reason is that as they see it, the problems…AND the solutions are “out there”…when in reality they lie squarely within themselves! It’s easier to blame a companion or a job or our environment for one’s misery…when the real problem and solution lies within themselves and they choose to see things.

It is a marvelous and amazing thing to witness when someone chooses to see the same [old] thing in a new or different light; to see through new eyes. The author Marcel Proust wrote: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes”. When we choose to see the same thing differently, to refocus on the positive, on its worth and potential, it (or they) changes right before our eyes. Seen from a different perspective or “attitude” what was drab or boring CAN become beautiful and exciting again.

Try this… Whatever it is (or who they are) that’s lost its luster in your [old] eyes, take out a blank sheet of paper and write at the top “Things I love about…” (whatever it is). Then below that make a list of all the good things, the good qualities, the value, the interesting things, the things about it that you’re grateful for, it’s irreplaceability…in short – the things you genuinely love about it or them. Then, before you go to bed at night stand in front of a mirror and read the list saying before each item on the list “I love….(that thing, aspect, feature, etc.)
Then the next morning repeat this reading, staring yourself in the eyes as you do. Do this every day for the next few days until you begin to see a transformation – until you see the thing (or person) as you once did…and you will!

A small investment in this process may well bring a huge improvement in your life and your relationships and may prevent unnecessary pain, loss, and disappointment down the road.
Too often people run from the very things that are the best things…when the right thing is just to see things with new eyes.

Lead on…

June 2, 2015 at 6:14 pm Leave a comment

Simple as 1-2-3

A race is just the celebration lap at the end of training

Continue Reading August 4, 2014 at 9:33 am Leave a comment

Getting There from Here

2011 – It’s half over…half gone!  By the calendar we should all be half way to meeting our goals and objectives for the year…right?  Lost 20 of those 40 lbs?  Half way to your sales goals for the year?  Called on the prospects you wanted to see by now?  Read five of the ten books you promised yourself you’d read?

Not quite?  Why not?  What went wrong?

At the beginning of the year we all had great expectations for the New Year – desires for growth, for improvement…for our organizations…for our people…for ourselves.

Six months have now passed…and where are we?  What’s changed?  Anything?  Or are you still waiting to get started?  If you’re like most people, the midpoint in the year may not equate to “half done” with your annual goals.  Why is that?  We know where we want to go…so why are we often still stuck in the same old rut?  Usually, the answer lies in the simple “law of progress”.  The law of progress states that in order to make progress, you must leave a place and move on.   However, it’s human nature to stay right where you are…to dwell lazily in your comfort zone.  The  law of progress says you can’t drift to success.  To reach the shores of success you must: 1) Select a destination, 2) Plot your course, 3) Steer toward your destination, and 4) Start (and keep) paddling.

1) Select a destination – Most of us know what we want in life or in business.  By selecting a destination, you simply set a goal – decide what it is you want to accomplish – and define it well enough that when you arrive there you will recognize the place.

2) Plot your course – Identify the route to be followed, determining the resources required to get there, and defining the mile markers (events and dates) that must met in order to achieve the desired outcome.  This requires being realistic in every way.  Have you identified every step?  Do you have all the resources?  Do you have the desire?  If the answer to any of these is “no”, you may be fooling yourself!

3) Steer toward your destination – With a “compass” in hand you keep your ship oriented toward your destination – the goal!  “Winds”WILL blow and may slow you.  Currents will arise, but with your “compass” (values and guiding principles) in hand you can keep the ship on course and pointed to success.

4) Keep paddling – Simply put, this means get to “work”.  It means getting up every day, and tending to business, following your plan.  It means doing the big stuff and the little stuff…the creative AND the basics.  It means scanning the horizon AND swabbing the deck.  It means everyday doing something we really don’t want to do.  Work is the price we pay for the rewards at the end of the journey, and all along the way.

In setting and accomplishing goals, there’s really no magic…just work!  But miracles do happen.  They happen not because of the supernatural, but because of the un-natural.  It is human nature to stay right where you are – to be rut-bound.  But real winners, the exceptional, the enlightened among us learn to lay nature aside, embrace the law of progress, pay the price, and achieve their goals…and with it, success.

Yes, half the year is gone, but the good news is that half still lies before us.  What will you do with the second half of 2011?

Lead on…

Cliff

June 22, 2011 at 2:33 pm Leave a comment

Social In-security

In his book “Pacific Coast Trail Hiker’s Handbook” author and adventurer Ray Jardine writes:

“Typically, the Pacific Coast Trail will approach a daunting creek, only to disappear into it and emerge from its far side.  And you might stand there looking at a potential drowning: yours.  Or perhaps you will stand there fuming at the government’s failure in providing hikers with a suitable bridge.  Consider though, that every time the wilds are “improved”, civilization thereby thrusts its maws a little deeper into the erstwhile pristine wilderness.  Should we construct stalwart bridges across every creek?  How about benches every few miles?  How about a five foot wide trail, well groomed and leading to huts at 10 mile intervals?  And how about power lines and roads to the huts, so hut-keepers could provide nutritious meals?

Instead, we might benefit the most by leaving the wilderness to its own devices, and laboring to improve ourselves.  When confronted with a swollen creek, rather than seeing an absent bridge, we need to see the challenge of finding a safe way across, somewhere upstream perhaps.  A bridge might allow us to cross safely, and it might save us considerable time hiking upstream to circumvent the torrent, but it does not strengthen us.  It does not better prepare us for the next bridgeless ford ahead.  I suggest that complaining about a lack of bridges only weakens us.  Why?  Because it reinforces our insecurities.

Security is confidence, not in the condition of the paths we travel, but in ourselves.  And no bridge can carry us over the river of our impatience and insecurities.”

Oh the lessons we learn in the wild!  Lessons for health, lessons for economics and governance, lessons for parenting and leading…lessons for life!  The greatest security, confidence, and peace comes from taking personal responsibility – by doing all we can for ourselves – and then trusting in our maker.  Self reliance is freedom; it is security; it is peace.  The more we depend on society to “build our bridges”, the more insecure we become.   Less really is more when it comes to the role of government in our lives. 

So the next time your trail disappears into “the creek”, smile and embrace the opportunity to take control, get stronger, and secure your own way.

Lead on,

Cliff

May 9, 2011 at 3:59 pm Leave a comment

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