How might we position ourselves when we are ready to do the work that matters? How might we adopt outward signs and symbols so that those who encounter us know that we are ready to engage?
When I trail run with my wonder dog, we occasionally encounter thunder and lightning storms, such as the one building in the background of the above photo. The storm arrived twenty minutes after this picture as we began our descent back towards the trailhead. My mountain canine is not a fan of thunder, and her allegiance to me is quickly tested when it rumbles across the mountains. She considers her option of heading directly back to the car, leaving me to navigate on my own. She always stays close, but I can see the panic in her thought process. No matter my words of assurance, she is fixated on the noise. I, however, spend time evaluating the proximity of the lightning. I am well aware that lightning is the primary threat to our well-being. When we stopped in a dense section of forest to allow the lightning to move out of our location, my running companion thinks it is a poor choice because the noise is still audible.
How might we confirm that we are focused on the right challenges and opportunities? The loudest noise might not be the best area for our focus.
Not everyone needs or wants a front-row seat, and there are plenty of reasons to prefer sitting outside the tent. When we try to force everyone to upgrade to the best available seat, our mindset is that closer is better. If we want to sit in the sun, bring a picnic, entertain younger kids, and even bring a canine, outside is far superior.
If somebody attends our performance, they are part of the team. No matter if the patron pays for the highest-priced seat or sits on the lawn outside. We might be misaligned with their preferences if we are always trying to upsell and upgrade their experience.
I was hiking in the Hemingway Wilderness Area of Idaho a few days ago, and I came to the first trail junction just five minutes from the trailhead. The primary intersection is unmarked, and the decision point is crucial if one wants to head towards the proper drainage and the adventure they planned. For years a signpost existed here, and somebody or something removed it. Now the lack of clarity creates a moment of anxiety for those who have not previously traveled this route. There are signs further up both trails to direct users to the appropriate peak or alpine lake.
We might think we have set up our fans for success, but sometimes we are so busy marking the summit and iconic features that we forget to check on the trailhead. We overlook the first few steps because they are so apparent to us. How might we learn from those encountering us for the first time? How might their experience help us be better wayfinders?
Cyclist have terrain parks to trial new tricks and develop skills? Where do we get to practice our skills? What opportunities exist to expand our repertoire of talents? How do we create new associations and perspectives? How often do we get access?
When we rush to get on the trail, we can forget key items. Perhaps the Hudson Bay Company (17th and 18th Century version) can serve as a model. In their fur trapping days, the expedition party would camp about a mile from the fort on the first night of their journey. The idea was that they would quickly discover which items they might have forgotten and then return to the fort without too much delay. How might we use a reasonably paced start to ensure we bring everyone and everything essential to our success?
Where we are headed might be a point on a map, a compass heading, a vague description, or a point on the horizon. It is easier to consider our course and endurance when the destination is visible.
What we build might remain for others to encounter in the years that follow. It might inspire the next chapter of the journey and leave a story of what was before.
If those who go before reduce the number of barriers, those who follow are likely to continue on the route. From clearing a path to leaving key insights or providing context, the journey can be enhanced by those who show care and concern. That said, we might be selective about which obstacles we remove, as some are necessary for the path to be remarkable.
Encountering a landmark provides a sense of progress and distance covered. The occasional threshold or roadside mile marker gives us the ability to note that our journey advances. These notable transitions are chapters to the narrative that defines our quest. Note them and celebrate reaching each one.