The last few months have been incredibly introspective for me.
Spending the bulk of my time alone on the mountains, in preparation for climbing Table Mountain every day next year, has allowed quality ‘me’ time.
It’s been interesting to watch myself see-saw between feeling inspired and feeling disheartened. I’ve been working aggressively through old negative behaviors – specifically self sabotage. It can creep up on you quickly and once your mind has hold of it: becomes diarrhea.
No one ever said self development was easy, and as with most things we tend to want the optimum results now without walking the path. Once again I am being taught patience and to choose gratitude for the learning’s instead of beating myself up for the fact I don’t already know it.
Over sixty hikes have taught me that and more; and I’ve quickly realised the similarities of conquering an obstacle every day, to the path of life.
Here are five insights I’ve gained:
1. One step at a time
We somehow create mountains out of molehills. Obstacles always seem to be harder, longer or even insurmountable. The trick?
Just get started.
It’s just one foot in front of the other that gets you up Table Mountain. Know your end goal but don’t focus too much on it otherwise it becomes daunting. Having an understanding of smaller targets that are easily achievable (where half way is; how many turns there are going up) diverts your attention from the total task at hand.
Interestingly enough, doing it this way has resulted in some of my fastest times up Table Mountain. You become enthused about hitting and reaching the smaller milestones rather than constantly overwhelmed by what still needs to be achieved.
2. Remain focused
I’ve almost twisted my ankle on the final few steps coming down after completing nearly 7 000 steps – why? Because I became cocky in a sense of thinking ‘ag just the last few steps who needs to concentrate’ and its exactly in that moment something happens.
Never take any step for granted.
I’m learning to become mindful not mind full. Many people have asked about what happens if I get injured next year. I believe injury happens when we are not prepared, we lose focus or is a manifestation of our own self doubt in our abilities to do what’s in front of us.
That last one I know because as a twelve year old I broke my arm two days before a football final while practicing. Why? Because I didn’t believe I was good enough to be in the team and contribute meaningfully.
Watch your thoughts carefully.
Every step we take in life must be with purpose and focus towards what we want. The moment we take our eyes off what we doing in the moment or allow self doubt to creep in is when we invite the mini disasters into our life.
3. Be grounded in appreciation and gratitude
Every climb I connect with the first step of the mountain in a show of gratitude for the fact that I not only have able legs, but a healthy body to support my climbs safely.
I have family members who’ve had to spend afternoons in bed because their bodies have been a debilitating drain on their energy. Most people I know suffer with illnesses throughout the year; some have chronic back pain. Some in wheelchairs. A few examples of things that others have to deal with daily that most take for granted.
Our bodies are our temples and one of the most sophisticated pieces of equipment on this planet. Being mindful of each step allows me to fully be present in my body and feel each step; how one tiny adjustment means I don’t feel niggles in my knees. It allows me to listen to my body and go at a pace that tests me but doesn’t put unnecessary stress on it.
To me, being active celebrates the gift this body I’ve been given is.
4. Becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable
JT Foxx stresses this point and this practice is helping me realise why it’s so important. Often the body feels under duress or that it’s tiring. I’m learning how we can push ourselves past that initial ‘pain’ which enables us to achieve more than we dreamed. This has helped on the really hot climbs where, taking an hour versus two, in searing heat doing strenuous exercise makes a huge difference.
It’s amazing that often my mind feel my body is on the brink of ‘sorry buddy – we need a break or we shutting down’ and yet; on most occasions doesn’t come and you can push through it.
I can tell you that this alone is the biggest lesson I’ve learned that will help me when those dark days come next year. When my body perhaps feels like it won’t manage and yet, will make it so long as I just start.
Uncomfortable just means we outside the range of what we know as normal. What we’re used to. Means we’re challenging what our own minds deem possible or impossible.
In our own minds.
Nelson Mandela said ‘it always seems impossible until its done’
Like I said – just take the first step.
5. Reward equals the risk we take
This is a biggie.
If you playing it safe and expecting to get massive returns; you living in a dream world. Small step outside comfort zone equals small reward on the other side.
Huge strides pushing your own boundaries and limitations means there’s an equal reward of learning and growth on the other side of that.
Ultimately we need to all learn to forget about everyone else (when it comes to growing) and focus on ourselves.
Am I better than I was yesterday?
What have I learned this day/week/month/year that helps me become a better person for tomorrow to push the boundaries even more?
Don’t just live with purpose – live on purpose. There’s a word we can all use every day that could transform everyone’s lives.
In each other.
In a better world for all.
I do. So don’t take my word for it – rather watch how I create that reality and decide if you prepared to take action for yourself.
You won’t regret it. Of that I’m certain
You won’t regret it. Of that I’m certain.