Do you like to hike?
Hiking is one of those things (much like golf) that you can do for your entire life, and it keeps you out in the fresh air. If there’s a cool stream near by so much the better. I like it.
Hiking requires a certain perspective and a little thought. Yes, its important to have sunscreen and water and the right hat and all that, but as any trail-goer will tell you, its the shoes that count most. And importantly, the art of walking has to be relearned to a degree.
You see trails are seldom level (or level for long) have lots of undulations, are made up of all kinds of materials including rocks and tree roots (and the occasional snake posing as a tree root as I learnt this past weekend) and have all manner of variations. In short, unlike padding down the hall to visit your cube mate or rolling across the living room to pick up your cell phone, you have to really watch where you’re going. And not just that, but you can’t afford to become myopic – you’ve got to look ahead a little bit for the occasional low-hanging branch or for just the general direction of your chosen path. More than once I’ve had to back track a little as I found I’d worked my way into an untenable position.
It reminds me of the Takeaway interview reviewing the new documentary of legendary tennis pro Serena Williams. At one point filmmaker Ryan White says something like, Serena doesn’t look back, and doesn’t look forward too much: she stays right here right now.
A lot like walking a trail.
Career is much like the hiker’s quest: it requires that same focus on “where are you right now?” Yes, you need a direction, just like Serena’s attempt to win all four majors in the same year. Yes, you need an overall plan. But you also need the right shoes stepping foot after foot as well as the occasional stop to check surroundings and your general direction.
If the hiker never looked at anything but their footwork they’d miss the beauty and backdrop of being immersed in nature. Its important to stop and smell the roses: life happens pretty fast. And yet, a successful hike and a successful career can be wrought out of that same focus Serena uses staying right here, right now.
So get your walking shoes on and a comfy pair of shorts and hit the trail taking your H2O along. Keep focused on where you’re going well-knowing that even if you have to backtrack every once in a while its still a hell of a walk, and its all yours: no one will do it just like you.