Lessons from the Trail


My daughter and I started a tradition a few years ago. Every year we pack up our gear and head out for a backpacking adventure of the Superior Hiking Trail in Northern Minnesota with my brother and his daughter. As we hike, the group typically spreads out, everyone has their own pace and we meet up at certain times or places. There are times of being completely isolated, nothing but the woods and your thoughts to keep you company. During our hike this year, I had some reflections on how hiking relates to our day to day life at work.

Lesson 1. Look Down and Up

You need to look down…and up. In one section of the trail, I found myself walking on more tree roots than ground. Out of necessity, I quickly developed a habit of looking at my feet to avoid tripping. After getting through that section, I realized I was still following that habit, missing the incredible world around me. There are times we need to look short-term, watching out for immediate dangers. However, we need to balance that with scanning the horizon, looking for long-term opportunities (the ‘big picture’) and enjoying the view.

Lesson 2. Know Your Why

Know your ‘why’. I can tell you, sometimes the road less traveled is that way for a reason. Failure to pay attention to the map and diminishing signs of trail wear have led us to some unnecessary miles and frustration. Other times, that detour or trail spur can be the highlight. It all depends on your goals – efficiency (get from point a to point b) or adventure, seeking out a new experience or view. With your ‘why’ as your guide, the decision at the fork in the road becomes much clearer.

Lesson 3. It’s About the Journey

It’s about the journey. The Superior Hiking Trail is not a loop, it is a 310-mile-long footpath. When we hike a section, we need to find a way to get back to transportation. We’ve had numerous strategies, from hiding a bike to finding a ride, or using public transportation (when available). What always hits me is during our drive back south, we cover the same ground we just hiked for 3-4 days in a matter of minutes. If we were there for the destination, there is a much more efficient way than hiking. It’s about the journey. So often at work we get caught up in the next accomplishment, the destination. We sometimes forget to enjoy the journey, often made up of many little moments and relationships built with co-workers, partners and clients.

My encouragement and challenge to you: look up, know and follow your ‘why’, and enjoy the journey!

______

Mike Meyers, Interstates CIO