Do you climb to see what is above? Not a right or wrong approach. An option. This may be one of the countless choices we encounter. Some add depth and dimension to our journey. Others require decision and and move on without reflection.
Energy comes from numerous of sources. It is easy to take it as an absolute, there will be power when needed. It is omnipresent. However, how we channel it becomes the question. It can propel us across the sky, turn on our lights, move us across open ground, or focus our attention. How might we direct our energy sources to have the greatest impact?
I have re-framing the act of strategic planning as an energy management plan. There is much we can work on, but where we direct our output is a critical decision.
I was out for a morning run in Wyoming. It was rainy and low clouds hung in the valley. I decided to deviate from the main gravel road to a 4×4 track that led into the hills. After four strides on the muddy surface, I noticed animal prints. Quickly I assessed it was a grizzly bear, the claw marks at the top being the most evident. I decided I did not need to run into the woods, charging up behind a grizzly that was out for a morning forage. So I changed directions.
Further out the main gravel road, I encountered a bull elk standing on a high point just off the road. He eyed me as I progressed towards his elevated position. The elk turned and faced me, still a reasonable distance away. After a loud haunting bugle, he started trotting in my direction. I quickly recognized that I was a threat and decided to change directions again. I ceased the unintended battle for the high ground without thought and retraced my steps.
We do not always know what we will encounter on our adventures, and we can possess enough clarity about the work that matters to decide when to proceed and when to find another path. Changing directions is not defeat; it is the reality of navigating, and it does not always take bear tracks and aggressive elk to shape our new path.
We cannot always see the route to the summit. It might be visible on our map but not from our current location. Does that mean we abort the peak ascent? If we are committed to the journey, we move forward, wayfinding as we encounter each obstacle while focused on keeping ourselves oriented to the summit. Even when we lose sight of the pinnacle, we ascend, knowing the journey will forever change the context of the work that inspires us.
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.
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?