Okay, so I didn’t literally “mountain climb” when I lived in China. But, my husband and I did take some pretty ominous paths up to the tops of mountains, which wasn’t something I would typically do… being that I’m afraid of heights and all.
But, living in a foreign country caused me to do a lot of things that I maybe wouldn’t have done if I hadn’t lived there (i.e. teach to a class of 50+ students in a Chinese University, travel the country without knowing a lick of Chinese, eating weird foods, etc.).
Looking back, my older self now wonders how I accomplished those things. The motivation I had there existed in knowing that I was living a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I could never recreate that moment in time, so I did the hard work and climbed the path upward.
And here’s what I learned:
#1 . . . It takes hard work to get to the top.
I know that sounds pretty cliche to say, but it’s just fact. If you don’t put the work in, you won’t get there.
Now on the days when I wonder why this thing isn’t working, or why things aren’t easier in my life or business, I remember that you’ve got to lay the groundwork. If you put in the time and the effort, you will get where you want to go but not unless and until you do.
#2 . . . There may be a lot of obstacles along the way.
So, this particular mountain on this particular morning was extremely hard to climb. The stones were covered with early morning condensation and were very slippery.
It was actually really neat to see the people native to the town climbing back down the mountain with such ease. They’ve probably climbed to the top several times over the course of their life, and so it was familiar to them.
For me, though, it was unfamiliar and a little terrifying.
Not knowing the best places to step and often feeling my feet slip (and not to mention that 95% of the way had no railing), I was terrified that I would fall and not be prepared…and quite literally tumble to my death. (Okay, so Mom if you are reading this…it wasn’t maybe that bad, but I was pretty scared).
Yet, I kept climbing despite the obstacles.
#3 . . . You have to get over the fear to see the view from the top.
I know, it sounds so cheesy! But again, it’s complete truth.
The whole time I was climbing, I was so focused on the steps and my fear. When my husband and I neared the top, I slowed down and took a look around me. The view was breathtaking. It’s etched in my mind forever.
Yet, had I not taken my eyes off the stairs and stones, I would not have seen the view.
#4 . . . Sometimes you can’t get to the tippy top, but you can learn from someone else who did.
When we got to a certain point, on the side of this mountain there was a ladder leading up to the next part of the pathway.
At this point, I was yearning to see the view from the tippy top of the mountain, but my hubby and I decided that I would wait for him where I was and that he would climb up the rest of the way then report back to me about how amazing it all was. I knew that with the shoes I had on and the strength I had in me, that that day would not be my day to climb to the utmost point.
But, he went onward. And when he came back down he filled me in on the sights, and showed me the photos he had taken. I was cool with that because I knew the limitations of the tools that I had. But I was really glad to have him beside me, and knowing that he was able to go up to the top and share with me what he saw.
# 5 . . . No risk, no reward.
Climbing up (and even climbing down) was difficult. I was afraid and very focused on my fear for most of the way.
Thinking of what could have happened if I had taken one misstep, could have been enough to not climb up.
Yet, I did it anyway.
I took the risk, and was able to learn more about my fear and more about myself.
I learned a lot that day.
And I think of how running a business can be a little similar to climbing mountains in China. Well, at least when it comes to fear.
The bottom line is that you either put yourself out there…or you don’t. You either work hard, or not. You either take the risk, or you lose the opportunity. It’s all about choice.
What types of fear do you have when running your business? How you do stop focusing on the fear and keep going? Leave your comments below, I’d love to hear!