Dear Why Team member,
I hope this post finds you well and enjoying your life and work -
because the work you do, the effort and pride you put into it, contributes to your self-esteem and capability to be more for yourself and others.
Some days we complete the task, some, we’re working towards it, taking steps towards achievements.
This week, we look at the power and importance of taking:
One Step at a Time
Five years ago, in order to complete a challenging task, I leaned into the importance of taking one step at a time. On August 8th, 2017, a little after 9:00am, I reached the Summit of Mount Baker, the most heavily glaciated of the Cascade Range volcanoes; there, the volume of snow and ice is greater than that of all the other Cascades volcanoes (except Rainier) combined. It is also one of the snowiest places in the world; in 1999, Mount Baker Ski Area, located 8.7 mi to the northeast, set the world record for recorded snowfall in a single season: 1,140 inches.
At 10,781 ft., it is the third-highest mountain in Washington State and from its Summit provides some of the most beautiful views I have ever seen.
Why did I try something so out-of-ordinary for most of us?
Like me, most people would agree that their fear of the unknown is the primary thief of possibilities.
Was I afraid? Sure.
So, why did I go and what did I learn?
I refused to allow my fears to limit what was possible for me. I believed that I would come to know myself more through the endeavor, that summiting Mt. Baker would be a reminder to inspire and encourage me for the rest of my life and hopefully do the same for others - to help others overcome their fears and thus reap more of their own possibilities.
It is no surprise that the unknown future is filled with danger, but it is also filled with possibilities we create and chances we’re willing to take. How we face the unknown future either lifts or limits our lives.
What were the positives that I leaned into for courage?
Number one: my guide - Matt Walker, and his experience. I would never attempt to climb a Glacier with just a map and a compass, but with a guide who had gone before me, who had Summited Mt. Baker 56 times;
I leaned into his experience and his confidence and equally as important, his belief in me that I could do it. I cannot stress enough the awakening of your possibilities when you have faith in your leader and he has faith in you.
Work and Preparation?
Oh yes, a lot of it. Over two and a half months of hiking many miles with a heavy backpack, acquiring the right gear, learning the Ropes, pun intended, Climbing Harness, Ice Axe, Crampons - food and water. Lots of calories and hydration needed throughout the journey. And teamwork, above all, supporting each other and being supported made it possible for our group of six to Summit Mt. Baker.
From the base of the Glacier looking up at the Summit, it really seemed an impossible task, but, as my good friend and fellow climber on the trip said:
"Can I make it to the top? I don't know, but I can make this next step."
More than anything on the journey was the full-on reminder that with one step at a time, what we perceive as impossible can become possible.
Please don't think for a moment that it required some uniquely fearless constitution. For over two months I went from excited to scared, back and forth, often in the same day. I would share my plans with others and feel the anxiety and fear trying to overpower me. But let's face it, most of our fear is from the uncertainty, the not knowing, and less about the actual risk, which we often fail to assess correctly. Just because a danger is possible doesn't mean it's probable.
Planes crash, but will we let that fact keep us from flying?
Other than our incredibly experienced leader and his experienced intern, the other four on the team were everyday people with their own individual apprehensions about making it to the top. One in particular, was paralyzed by fear more than once, thus requiring more courage than any of us to persevere; it was inspirational to watch how a strong, experienced leader and others around you that want to see you succeed can help you experience something your own self gave up on experiencing.
Pogo said, "We have identified the enemy and the enemy is us"
Enemy to what?
To what is possible for us.
This writing is an invitation to you to look into your own unknown future with more excitement and less trepidation. I invite you to stretch yourself even more by at least one step at a time and say "Yes" more often to the possibilities - even when, and especially when, everything in you is saying "No, are you crazy?"
Thomas Edison said, "If we all did the things we are capable of doing we would literally astound ourselves".
And now, after many years of sharing these words of his, and with a lot of help from my friends, more than ever before, I am privileged to truly experience his wisdom in my own life. Hopefully, you are now a bit more inspired to say "Yes" to climbing your next mountain or at least taking one step that would get you closer to reaching your next Summit.
Make it a great week.