There is always another way. If the path is blocked or a barrier rises up, there is always another way. I’m not completely sure that is always true but it is the premise that I begin with when faced with an obstacle. If i encounter resistance, it is an opportunity to reflect, reset, and restart or resist, regroup, and reconfirm or retreat, reform and reengage. Or any number of other re’s . What the barrier identifies is a possibility that hasn’t been considered and shouldn’t be taken as a criticism or a personal affront. The barrier may simply be surmounted, circumvented or crashed or there may be a reason to think about the approach and discover that there is a different and better way to get to your destination. Don’t be deterred unless reflection tells you that the new information offers an insight that you hadn’t considered. Then there may be a reason to reimagine the destination in a new light. Tilting at windmills is something I have done and only rarely has it been satisfying and even more rarely has it been successful. But if new information serves to inform the map and suggest a detour then that is valuable to achieving your goals.
I try not to anticipate a block in my path and try not to be watching for it but when I encounter one , I want to be able to examine what put it there, does it serve a purpose, is it an accident or an anomaly or should I be concerned about danger or other ramifications? I suspect that most of us get a feeling of disappointment when confronted with a setback but if we can get past that to the learning there is another way, there always is.
An immovable object meets a irresistible force and a big bang occurs. Inertia meets excitement, pessimism runs into optimism and neither remains the same. Change occurs even when , or especially when, we aren’t expecting it. I can be convinced, packed, loaded and heading down a certain path and find that the trail ends abruptly. I can detour around the fifteen foot wall, I can try knock it over, I can try climb over it or I can backtrack and try a different path or backtrack and give up. The only unacceptable option for me is to retreat and give up. As long as I am moving, I am making progress. When I drive, I am opportunistic and often make turns at lights or in congestion so I don’t reduce my momentum. When I am working on a project and hit a snag, I admit to feeling frustration seep in and my ambition seep out. If I am alert, I remind myself that the frustration is an opportunity to learn and that my motivation shouldn’t be hinged to progress but instead to effort. Easy to say, harder to do.
The road forward shouldn’t be a safe straight trajectory. I learn much more when I am disrupted and challenged by unexpected barriers and mysterious options. As a impatient imperfectionist with a serious destination bias, I struggle appreciating the journey. But all that I really have is the next stretch of trail before a turn or dip appears and focusing on a finish line that is out of sight reduces enjoyment, possibilities and growth. A finish line mentality also makes me single-minded and blind to other ways and it seems causes an increase in effort as I miss obvious and hidden signals and shortcuts.
In a race following someone who is slightly faster or more fit can lead to improved times and maybe a personal best but getting caught up in beating other runners creates the wrong focus. I am running on an unknown course this weekend and am reminding myself to be alert for hazards, pay attention to markers, enjoy the snot bubbling elevation changes and enjoy challenging myself in relation to the results I have accomplished in previous runs. It may not be perfect (for sure), it may not be pretty (likely) but it will be positive regardless of how or where I finish ( I recognize that there is a part of me that sees another first place as some other kind of validation and need to keep that ambition tempered.)
If I need a reminder this weekend of the immovable object and irresistible force, there is a great likelihood that we will encounter bears on the route. This past week black bears and grizzlies have been seen enjoying the sunshine in the open meadows and trudging up some of the logging roads. Knowing that there is something dangerous around the next corner or the next will be a strong prompt to stay in the moment and learn something from each step.
My training over the past couple of weeks has focused on proper for and good equipment. Even when I am experimenting with new shoes or an new idea, I need to think about the process and if my posture and carriage is getting the maximum results from all the effort. The difference between success and less than success can come down to a blister or a blistering start. It can be challenged by a desperate need or bias and the idea doesn’t gain roots because it was seeded haphazardly.
Like most of my work and my recreation having a strategic plan can be useless. Knowing my strategic position; some future preferred state and staying pointed in that general direction can allow the race or practice to be interesting, efficient and still leave room for leaps over logs and leaps of logic. In ideation and trail running, iteration is generative. One step builds on the next and attaches itself to the delta of previous changes. One step becomes 1000 becomes 10K and word becomes a phrase becomes a sentence becomes an idea that synthesises to another idea and creates something that has the same grit and dirt of both but smells and feels oddly different than might have been expected.
As I head out early tomorrow morning with some excitement and apprehension I will be reminding myself to be alert for changes, be ready with resources (bear spray and nutrition) and be ready for a lot of unexpected challenges and unexpected opportunities.
Make Today Remarkable by being alert,
I was reading Ali Polin’s post this morning Isn’t it Time You Dare Yourself to Up Your Game? and she had a link to a post from early this month on self imposed barriers which got me thinking about what barriers am I throwing up to stop myself from stepping over the safety fence into the ‘little bit crazy” zone.
For me being audacious looks easy but one man’s outrageous is another’s normal and when I am out in left field outside your pasture of comfort there is still a fence penning my ideas, actions and behaviours. Just because I look weird to you doesn’t mean I am operating outside my status quo. This is also a good reminder when I observe others whose barricade is way outside or inside mine. Pushing boundaries is personal. We may need to be prodded and encouraged by others to stretch over or straddle the fence but being there is a personal decision.
Take a look at Ali’s 50 things where permission is granted and see if any are over the net and give them a try. If you are comfortable with all or most of them, write your own list of 10 and begin trying a few of them a week.
Foolishness is where we encounter as yet unimagined solutions so the journey there is worth the effort. Take some time today to figure out where your impracticality line is and then step over into the unknown territory.