Getting to the Top

competition subconscious resistance Aug 05, 2022
woman in hat looking out at mountains

I'm writing to you from an elevation of about 7,500 feet.

Right now, I'm on tour in Montana with The Crossing, and every morning, I have gotten up and gone for a walk.

A walk in Montana is actually a hike, especially where we are staying. There are lots of hiking trails around here and many of them are steep!

I love hiking, but I'm not in the best shape. I have always felt like I was an inferior hiker.

Part of that is because my dad is such a good hiker. He's an outdoorsman, through and through.

When I was growing up, he would take me to Yosemite and we would go hiking along these big trails. He always pushed me to go longer, faster, higher.

Real talk: I resented this. I don't respond well to pushing. Usually when somebody pushes me to do something, I just dig my heels in and do the opposite.

My dad thought that if he inspired some kind of competitive spirit in me, I would excel and then we would be able to do hikes together. Looking back on all this, I appreciate the sentiment. It's just that he didn't understand how to motivate me.

Still, every summer we would go to Yosemite. And despite my resistance, I absolutely loved camping and I truly love hiking. It’s just that I learned that I would never be a good enough hiker, at least not with my dad.

When I stayed with my mom on the weekends, we would often hike the path to the ridge behind her house in Marin County. With her, there never was any hurry. We would spend time along the trail Identifying plants, pointing out animal tracks, and talking about life.

The last few years I’ve gone on this Montana tour, I’ve gone hiking with some of the other singers. On those hikes, unfortunately, old feelings of inadequacy come up.

Look, I'm not the most fit of the bunch. I’m getting closer and closer to 50, and many of the singers are half my age. Anyway, when I’m with the group, I feel pressure to not stop and rest.

Here’s the thing: there is no right or wrong way to get up the mountain. You could get to your destination quickly, hike with purpose, and push your body to see what it can do. You might be surprised at what you can accomplish when you go outside your comfort zone.

You could also slow down and notice the flora and fauna along the path. What’s the point of walking along the path so quickly if you end up missing the beauty around you? And if you do push yourself too far too fast, your body might collapse.

Obviously, this is a metaphor for any project - any goal - at all. Of course you want to reach your goal, but how do you want to do that?

Do you want to take your time, learn your lessons, acclimate your body, make sure that you have the necessary oxygen and energy to get to the top?

Or do you want to run a race, Get to the top first and, and push yourself so far you surprise even yourself?

Both ways are valid, and there is room to find your own balance between those two extremes.

It's been so valuable for me to go on these hikes alone early in the morning. I can set my own pace.

Sure, if I was with a bunch of people, I might be pushed to go a lot faster, but I'm also pushing myself in my own way. When I get to certain points along the trail, I dialogue with myself: “Can I go a little bit further? Yeah? Let’s do it.” Or, “No? All right, let's sit down and rest.”

When I rest, it's beautiful. I look around and try to identify all of the different wildflowers and edible plants around me. I listen to the bird calls and I notice little tufts of bear fur against some of the trees where the bears have scratched themselves.

All of this is really beautiful, and I know I would be missing it if all I was focused on was getting to the top.

So as you're going through your day, looking at your to do list and focusing on your goals, remember that you have the choice to go fast, slowly, or somewhere in between.

Whatever option you choose is 100% the right option for you. You'll still get to the top of the mountain no matter what.

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