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The Hill is Only as Steep As You Make It

Have you ever felt like your problems at work were a mountain you’d never be able to climb? What if that mountain was as easy to scale as a flat path? My recent experience on the hiking trail reminded me just how much power there is in the mindset we’re in when we approach our challenges.

Now that I was on the mend from some back issues I’d been having, one day I decided to try hiking one of my favorite trails. In the past, I’d go up this hill with no sweat (literally). On this day, when I reached the first major incline I was already out of breath and sluggish, and the hill looked like it had doubled in size since the last time I’d been there.

Still, I persisted. It was a beautiful day, and I really wanted to make this climb. After having to take it easy while I was healing, this accomplishment would symbolize that I was back in action. It meant a lot to me.

As I got into more movement and more momentum, I saw myself conquering the hill. The more I moved, the higher I climbed, the more positive I felt. The next thing you know, my heart was pumping, my blood was flowing, my legs felt lighter, my whole body was alive with energy, and my face lit up in a smile.

When my back was bothering me, it felt like my creativity was suppressed. But as I climbed that hill, I experienced a flood of new thoughts and ideas. I grabbed my smartphone and started typing them in.

Since that day on the hill, both my back and my brain have stayed functioning at that higher level. And at least one of those ideas has already resulted in economic gain for me in my business. Every single one of those ideas was inside me, but had been blocked by my back pain and recovery process.

That day, the trail became my third place – the magical location outside of your regular work and home activities where you can dream, plan and prioritize. All leaders need designated time for thinking and planning. Otherwise it’s too easy to get overbooked and just run from action to action with no accountability for the big picture. The third place is where you can do that thinking.

On the trail, I even found my fourth place. The fourth place is where we can shift into a different mindset and way of thinking about things – a new dimension, even. Some people call it being in “the zone;” where we can tap into all that firepower we knew was in there but weren’t able to get out.

Do you know that I went back and made a second trip around the trail that day? Only that time I got to the top and realized I hadn’t even experienced any sense of climbing. It was like the hill had disappeared. I was in the fourth place, and in the fourth place we don’t see hills or obstacles, we see only paths and possibilities.

Where is your third place? When have you experienced being in the fourth place? Where could you go to get energized when you’re stopped and blocked?