Greg Mortensen in his book, Three Cups of Tea, describes his first climbing experience. When he was eleven years old his father took him on his his first high mountain climb. “I gagged and puked my way up Kilimanjaro”, he said, and “I hated the climb. But standing on the summit at dawn, seeing the sweep of the African savannah below me, hooked me forever on climbing.” What a great analolgy this is of where we all have been at one point or another in our lives. We make our plans, we set our sites on our loftly goals and dreams, and our enthusiasm runs high. Then we begin the climb to the summit of those plans and all of a sudden we “hate” what we are doing. None of the effort seems worth it. Somehow we manage to keep going and the the summit of it all appears and then we are standing on the top. The difficulty of the climb, the view from the top, and seeing the valleys below, gives us all the motivation we need to “get hooked on climbing.”
One of the things that all humans share is the necessity of waiting. We are all required to wait for something, someone, or sometime throughout most of our lives. One would think, with all the practice that we get, that we would get better at it. I have found it to be one of the most difficult things to do with any kind of patience or peace. We become anxious and frustrated and sometimes even angry that things or times just don’t happen quickly enough. But just as with any other “high place”, it takes persistence and commitment to wait patiently when it gets hard. High mountain climbers teach us valuable lessons about the importance of waiting. They remind us that “going too high too fast” is very dangerous and that knowing when to wait and when to go can be a life saving skill. An Everest climber has stated it very well, “a stillness descends and the mountain beckons those who have waited.” Whatever you may be waiting for, look for the stillness that can be a part of the wait and the “high place” of waiting patiently gets closer and closer. If we believe that Life is Better at the Top, the wait becomes worth it.
“Obstacles are what we see, when we take our eyes off the goal.” In our world today, there are so many distractions moment by moment that keep us from being focused. These distractions turn into obstacles and before we know it, the obstacles are all that we see. I believe that staying focused is a “skill”that needs to be practiced before we become very good at it. Practicing staying focused demands that we recognize when those practice sessions come into our lives. It is one of the more difficult professional and personal skills to acquire.
One of the best training grounds for practicing this skill is in the car. We have all been in this situation many times and know how easy it is to lose focus on the highway and on other drivers. We always think we can “multitask” in the car. If we recognize this as a drill that helps us to acquire the skill of staying focused, it will surprise us how much transfer this can be to other areas of our lives. Try being aware of the situations where you can practice this skill. As you get better in the drills, you will see how much more efficient you will be in the “game” personally and professionally.