"Find your own path and embrace the journey."
It was marked on one of those decorative boxes you can buy to store things in. It caught my eye. And yesterday, when I was out for a hike with a client-turned friend, it took on a whole new meaning.
We set off from where we parked our cars around 9:45am. The initial ascent was steep, first up grass and then up a long series of steep stone steps. To our left, Cautley Spout, England's highest above ground waterfall. We continued up, the fog getting thicker as we went and patches of melting snow appearing beneath our feet.
As the path levelled out a little, I asked Laura (who’s a much more seasoned walker than I am), “when is fog bad? I mean, if I were out on my own, I’d think this was bad, but maybe this is just pretty average fog."
“No, this is pretty bad”, she replied.
Laura checked the map and compass, trying to decide if we needed to take a left or carry on further. We went left, a little unsure. The fog was pretty thick now, the wind was biting and we had to watch the ice underfoot.
Eventually though, the path met another path and we knew we were on track.
Over the course of the rest of our hike, we went wrong several times; went down hills we then had to climb back up; half walked, half skidded down muddy slopes; waded through a river deep enough to fill our boots with water (thank goodness for wool socks); scrambled through prickly Gorse bushes and climbed fences marked “strictly no walkers”.
We did, eventually, find ourselves back on the right, low level path leading us back towards the cars and made it there not long before the light started to fade.
It wasn’t quite the hike either of us had mind and it would have been easy to grumble at the series of events that befell us. Instead, finding ourselves having to create our path down, we embraced the journey - with all its freezing rivers, prickly bushes, ice, fog and wind.
Following your heart, creating a life you love, building a business doing work that matters - it’s much the same. There are people who have gone before you and it can be helpful to follow in their footprints, learning from the directions they took and the decisions they made.
But you won’t be able to do it all that way. There are going to be times when you have to go your own way and find your own path.
There are going to be surprises you didn’t anticipate or plan for. There will be things that go wrong.
In those moments you’ll always have to decide whether to grumble at your misfortune, or embrace the journey and do what’s necessary to get yourself back on track with a smile on your face. Since it won’t serve you to grumble, you may as well do the latter.
No one can tell you what you’re here for. No one can tell you what’s in your heart. No one can say what you’ll be called to do or create. No one can tell you which direction to go in, which decisions to make, which things to say yes to and which things to say no to.
Your path is yours to find. You’ll have to make your own mistakes, wade through the mucky bits and stand elated on the top of the mountain before plunging again into the valley for round two.
Your path won’t be the same as anyone else's. It can’t be. What’s inside you isn’t inside anyone else.
Life will call to you in ways it calls to no other living soul. The projects it wants you to take on, the causes it wants you to stand behind, the people it wants you to serve and the way in which it wants you to serve them - they’re all unique to you.
You’re not here to worry about other people’s paths. You’re not here to compare yourself, measure yourself or judge yourself against them. It really has nothing to do with you.
Focus your time instead on what’s in your heart. Just look at that. And then whatever comes out will be true and unique and beautifully you and you’ll find yourself walking your path with so much more ease.
At the end of the day, just hold this in your heart:
“Find your own path and embrace the journey."
Love and courage,