We set off late for our hike up Black Mountain yesterday. We'd agreed in advance that Keijiro would go ahead of me, being a faster walker and in training for an 8-day hike of the Tour du Month Blanc in July. I'd walk as far as I could or felt like and he'd collect me on the return and we'd hike back together.
It suited me. I like to walk alone. I like to go at my own pace. To stop when I need to. To take time to watch the butterflies playing and marvel at the pretty flowers along the way.
I thought a lot about building my business whilst hiking yesterday. There's a surprising number of similarities between being out on the mountain and building a business. I wanted to share them with you today.
1. Before you set out, you imagine it's going to be a lot easier than it is
From the comfort of home before we set out I imagined the ease with which I'd move up the mountain. I imagined how good it'd feel to be out in the sun. Moving. Climbing.
But as soon as we started, I realised how much more difficult it was going to be than it had seemed in my head. The first mile of the trail was a consistent steep ascent. My legs burned. It was 30 degrees celsius and I remembered that I actually hate being too much in the sun.
Thoughts about how I'd never make it crossed my mind.
These are the moments in business when it's easiest to give up. You're early in your journey and your muscles are weak. It's harder than you thought. It hurts too much. You want it to be easier. You didn't expect quite this much work.
2. It gets easier the more you climb
The hike was tough. But I noticed the further I went, the easier it got. Partly because my legs were getting used to the work. And partly because the further I got, the closer I knew I was to the summit. The closer I was to the result I wanted.
There comes a point in building your business when you realise you've built some resistance to the struggle. It's not always necessarily easier than it was at the beginning (although it definitely has got easier for me) but you no longer react in the same way to the struggle.
Sometimes you still wonder about stopping. Giving up. But there's a much stronger conviction that you won't actually do that. You're learning to love the challenge. The burn. So you keep going.
3. Fear is a powerful motivator
A man came towards me from the opposite direction on the trail. He was carrying several uprooted flowers and said "look what I've found" as he got near.
"What are they?" I asked.
"I don't know. Wildfire" he replied.
"Pretty" I said.
"As are you" he said with a smile.
I gave a nervous laugh and moved on. He called something after me, but I didn't make it out. I reached into my bag and took out my whistle and clutched it in my hand.
I moved a LOT quicker after that.
Fear can be an incredible motivator whilst you're building your business. Don't hate the fear. Use it to your advantage. Let it push you along. It doesn't have to work against you.
4. You have to decide BEFORE you set out that you'll finish
I eventually met Keijiro on his way back from the summit. He was surprised to see me. I was only .76 miles from the summit. He hadn't thought I'd get that far. We'd talked about me maybe stopping at the open meadow about a mile into the walk and just reading a book and chilling out.
But the truth is, whilst I hadn't voiced it to him, I'd already decided before we left the house that I'd finish the hike. And that decision was everything.
Whatever you're building, you can't go into it with an "I'll see how it goes and how I feel" attitude. You have to decide and commit BEFOREHAND that you'll make it. You have to know that you'll do what it takes to succeed.
There's nothing more powerful than commitment. When you make a full commitment to something, there's nothing you can't do.
Mindset it everything. Always.
5. You keep going because you know how much you want the result
Like I said, it was a tough hike. There were some long sections of continuous uphill. But through all those tough bits I only kept thinking about how much I wanted to finish.
Keijiro returned to the summit for a second time with me. And when we arrived, I was beyond happy I'd made the effort to finish. Long green grass covered the open summit, purple flowers dotted all across the landscape, the sky an endless blue, birds circling overhead and a light breeze that felt so good after the sweaty climb.
I love to hike. Except I don't. Most of the time I don't actually love to hike at all. Most of the time I'm thinking about hard it is and how how hot it is and how much I hate suncream.
The truth is I love to hike BECAUSE it's difficult. Because it's that difficulty that makes the result so much sweeter. There's an unbelievable satisfaction in getting through something hard to achieve a desired result.
It's exactly the same in business. I know sometimes you wish it were a lot easier. But honestly, do you really? Isn't it the satisfaction of overcoming the challenges before reaching your desired result that you really want?
Focus on the result and how much you want it and you'll be able to keep going through any amount of struggle.
Whatever mountain you're climbing, remember this:
It'll be harder than you think before you start.
It WILL get easier the further you go.
Focus every day on your desired result.
If you decide in advance that you WILL achieve your goal, nothing can stop you.
Remember how bloody brilliant you're going to feel when you eventually reach the summit.
Now go, get out there, fuel up and enjoy the burn. The result it coming. And it's going to be so worth it when you get there.
Love and courage,