Stay in the present - the mist will lift

Many of us are seen to be leaders, within our families, workplaces or even our communities.

As such, we often prioritise the needs of others before our own: the team, the kids, the partner.

I recently took some time out from my routine, driving out of the Sydney city bubble and enjoyed some rest and recreation at the Blue Mountains in NSW. I was reminded of the importance of thinking time, alone time and listening to my needs.

Saturday started with a five hour hike alone. Heavy mist hung over the valley and I could only see ten to 15 metres ahead of me. This forced me away from the view of the distant horizon and into the near view, surrounded by nature’s beauty to enjoy close-up. I had no choice but to look down, carefully taking one step at a time, navigating ‘small’ rather than ‘big’, but with a sense of confidence that my path was the correct one as I was following a map. 

As I coved the very steep 1522 step descent, traversing the impressive nature of the forest and tackling the steep climb up the other end, I reflected on business and the analogies with walking that surfaced for me.   
Prioritise you: Take time to think and prioritise yourself when necessary. It is through these times of reflection where learning becomes apparent.  

Plan ahead and be present: Forecasting and planning, while required, takes you out of the day-to-day activities. As you worry about what will or won’t come to pass, you often ignore what is happening in the moment. 

Trust the process: When things are difficult or uncertain, know where you are headed but look down at the next step to make sure it’s a safe one. Ensuring the steps are safe, deliberate and purposeful will keep you in the moment and ultimately help get you to the end destination. COVID-19 has undoubtedly presented us with many twists in our path, where we were unable to see clearly exactly what lay around the next bend. Will it be manageable? Will we continue or will we have to turn around and redirect? How will we be impacted? Worrying is not the answer but rather our mindset should be focused on moving forward, even just slowly and carefully, to get closer to the objective, whatever or wherever that may be.

Take risks and innovate where appropriate: Take the opportunity for detours to explore and discover something unexpected. The destination remains the same with added points of interest to distract from any aches or a new outlook from which to consider the day, may just enhance the way you tackle the original route when you return to it.  

Fuel yourself for growth: Sustenance is important, as without the energy and fuel to push through the difficulties of any situation, you reduce your likelihood of reaching the desired destination. Find your fuel.
Reflect, reflect, reflect: Taking time to stop and look back on all the distance covered gives a sense of accomplishment. We are told not to spend too much time looking in the rear-view mirror and rather to look ahead. Those steps taken required effort, courage, caution, and determination. It was not always easy, acknowledge that.

Maintain the momentum: Knowing the end is in sight creates a sense of anticipation. You will have almost achieved what you set out to do. The journey required exertion, struggled to succeeded. This is both invigorating and exhausting. It also creates some sadness as the journey approaches the end, until the next one then begins. Do you speed up or slow down towards the end? I tend to speed up as I know I’m almost there, feeling uplifted by the endorphins from the physical challenge. I am also grateful for the strength of my body and the beauty of the environment, super-charged for the next adventure.

As I approached my destination that Saturday afternoon, I realised that being confident in knowing that the destination is the right one, is all one can do in challenging times, be it in your work or personal life. Looking down at the next step to make sure it is safe, deliberate, and firm when what lies in the distance is not visible. Having a strong team, all working on the right activities, celebrating their successes, learning and innovating through reflection and staying connected in the overall pursuit of achievement, is the recipe for thriving in challenging times. I believe we will all look back on 2020 and 2021 with so much strength knowing that we made it, we came out stronger and more resilient, using creativity and innovative thinking to do so.

By the ascent, the mist had lifted with an uninterrupted view of the sensational panorama of the valley below, giving even more context to what I had completed, how far down I had to climb, how vast the area really is and how much more there remains to still explore. I will return.