Becoming Our Best


Recently I went on a five-day backpack trip in the high Sierra with an old friend. Besides having a wonderful time exploring a beautiful area and experiencing the glories of creation, I was able to detach myself from the busy-ness of my professional life and see the big picture more clearly. Of course all of this was in the spare moments between considering whether to cross a bank-full river, scrambling up to a 10,300 ft pass, laboring under a 40-pound pack, swimming in a chilly mountain lake and other primal experiences the mountains bring us.

It seemed that the backpack trip contained alot of lessons about personal and business life in its texture. Lessons that are easily forgotten in the fast lane of business and the professions.

So what were some of the key points that emerged?

* Be prepared. A little extra time thinking through an upcoming challenge can save many regrets later.

* Don''t plan something to death. It is always good to have a plan; and then to be flexible enough to modify it or throw if out, as the circumstances indicate. The most important part of planning is the process of preparing the plan, not casting the plan in concrete, never to be changed.

* Be ready to live with paradoxes like those above: planning vs. spontaneity, seriousness vs. humor, attention to detail vs. creativity. In the spaces between these extremes, real life exists.

* Sieze the day. When we decided the river was too high and too dangerous to cross, we looked at the topographic map and saw a great mountain pass only 5 miles and 3000 vertical feet away. It was an exciting alternative to our original river crossing leading to a campsite by the high mountain lake. Sometimes when the door to one opportunity is closing, another one is opening, if we just look for it.

* Experience the joys of friendship with colleagues. It's easy to get so engrossed with our own array of responsibilities that we can't find time to spend enjoying the company of co-workers. As an old friend and mentor once said, "Make time for the people first, and the other work will always get done." It's true.

* Live in the moment. The past is gone and the future still a dream. The only moment we have is the one we're living. Whether things are going well or heading quickly in the wrong direction, it's good to taste the excitement, pain, boredom or whatever is coming our way and live it to the fullest. A challenge, but a fulfliing one.

I wonder sometimes what it would be like to take 6 months off and hike the Pacific Crest trail from Canada to Mexico, just leaving behind work and its responsibilities. At the same time, I love my work and the people I am privileged to be with in creating a better world. Another paradox, I guess; and an opportunity to live the moment, whatever it may be.

Author: Bruce Johnsen Management Consultant:
824 Munras Ave Suite G
Monterey, CA 93940

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