Posts Tagged: mountian

Jul 10

Deeper or Higher?

I just started writing this blog entry today and I am already confused.  Now I’m sure this is not too surprising to those of you who have been strolling along with me on this blog journey for any length of time.

From the very first blog I have been referring to this blog adventure as a journey of out and up; out from behind the walls of our safe little world and up a mountain.

Now I am talking about digging a well.  Am I going up or down?

I think the reality of this dilemma is that to successfully go higher one must go deeper.

Principle I Believe: Higher and broader demands deeper

I believe this is true in all aspects of life – nature, personal, emotional, relational, business, families, organizations, etc.

Height and breadth needs depth for strength and stabilization.

An Example: (Alright stick with me; this may seem a bit boring at first but it does have relevance to both you and me.)

I happen to have the privilege to work with a lot of different kinds of companies.   One of the patterns I have seen is that many companies are very successful while they are small but struggle as they get bigger.  The first symptom of shallowness is the systems and organizational structure is inadequate to support the demands of the business.  This is a relatively simple (albeit painful) matter to solve.

If growth continues the new processes and systems can sustain the company for only a short while.

Now the heavy lifting takes place.  This is where the most difficult challenges occur and organizational character tested.  The bigger the company grows the greater the need for a defined corporate identity, clarity of organizational strategies, succinctness of priorities, simplicity of goals and commitment to values.  These are the roots that support the whole.

The big question is, so what?  What does that have to do with me?  Everything!

Think about it.  The greater the challenges in our lives the more critical it is to know who we are, what’s important, where we are going, and what we believe.

When things are going well in life we have no conscious sense of need to draw from anything beyond the moment.  But how stabile are we in the storms of life?  My guess is that most of us stand the tests of life pretty well.

But then there are times when we are shaken to the core.  It is in these times where we really learn who we are, what’s important, where we are going, and what we believe.  Not only does it tests our roots but strengthens out roots.

“The greater the complexity the simpler we need to be.”

Take off your walking shoes and put on your gloves.  It looks like we will be digging instead of walking for a few days.

See you bright and early Monday.

May 10

Back to the Mountain


Did you notice that my writing accent took on a distinct down home twang since we’re back on the trail?

Side Note: No need to say it… weird, I know… you just have to bear with me.

I have been at this blog thing for five months.  It has been a very interesting journey so far, but not easy.  I have heard that anything substantive and worth doing isn’t easy.  I tend to agree.

That’s one of the reasons I feel pretty good about writing this blog.  It’s sure not because I feel I have set the standard for literary excellence.  But it’s because historically I have tended to be pretty lazy and take the easier way.  It’s sad to say and embarrassing to admit it, but it’s true.

That’s one of the things that I finally had to face up to.  Lies and excuses will keep you trapped in the purgatory of mediocrity.  I was going to hell of mediocrity but pain produces action.  Purgatory is a state of nothingness.  You’re not good enough to experience the excitement of risk and joy of success, but you’re good enough to avoid the pain of failure.  Like I said… nothingness.

I really can’t say what has stirred over the past few years but thank God something has.  Now you can get a glimpse of why this blog was a big step.

I pray (don’t worry, I’m not going to get all churchy on you) that something I share may pierce the shell that either protects you from outside things, or traps you from getting out.

Once again listen to the voice beyond the wall (Blog # 1 & 2) calling you to something more.

“Men go out into the void spaces of the world for various reasons.  Some are actuated by love of adventure, some have the keen thirst for scientific knowledge, and others again are drawn away from the trodden path by the lure of little voices, the mysterious fascination of the unknown.”

-          Ernest Shackleton, Explorer (1874-1922)

Side Note: If you have never heard of Ernest Shackleton I encourage you to read the book Endurance.  It is an absolutely amazing true story and of courage, perseverance and heroism.

You cannot have discovery unless you have the unknown.  Yes the unknown can scare the hell out of you.  Mediocrity is the home of the known.  No risk, no fear, no discomfort, no life.

That’s the beauty of listening for the siren call.  Hearing the call captures the imagination and the fear of looking bad or fear of failure is overwhelmed by the fear of losing out on something great.

Listen… Do you hear it?  I do, what a joy.

See you Monday

Apr 10

Snake Bite

Well, I guess it’s time to get moving again.  Every now and then you need to stop and just hang out and talk but now back to the task at hand, climbing the mountain.

As most of you know this is a journey that I started January 4th of this year.  It has been rewarding and pretty interesting.  I have gotten all kinds of responses, most of which have been very supportive and individuals happy to cheer me on.  I thank all of you who have encouraged me along the way.

I have not had anyone discourage me but I have had others who look at me with a vacant stare and slowly nod politely with a… “That’s nice.”  All the while their head continues to slowly nod in a mechanical motion and you can see in their eyes… “Why in the world would anyone want to do that?”  But once again I can’t pay any attention to their non-interest.

I think I am beginning to get a handle on this “not worrying what people think thing” and glibly make a statement about not paying attention to people’s non-interest… then I am quickly body slammed to the mat by reality.

Let me explain what I mean.  Something very interesting occurred about two weeks ago.  A friend showed me the web statistics section in the behind-the-scenes portion of my blog site.  I am not a techy person so this was new territory.  This statistics section reveals all kinds of data but in particular the number of visits I get on the blog.

Interesting Statistics (to me anyway):

  • This blog has had over 7,000 hits since January 1st.
  • Averages about 500 per week
  • 39 different countries (mostly hackers probably – 4 from China)

True Confession: Of the 7,000+ hits, I am probably 1,000 of them.  The first few weeks I checked in all the time.

Now I have a new dilemma.  I have enough ego and competition in me to cause me some trouble.  I catch myself checking all too often to see how many hits I am getting.  This is not a good thing.  It causes me to think too much.

Yep… you guessed it… it plays right into my need to please people and have people’s approval.

But here’s the learning that applies to us all.  We embark on these personal journeys and make real progress.  But whatever we struggled with has a way of sneaking in and catching our attention at the most unexpected times.  It’s kinda like someone you broke up with and you end up regularly seeing them in the background with that Fatal Attraction look.

It’s frustrating but that’s just part of the process.  The spurned object of our former devotion does not exist without us.  It needs us for existence.  So it keeps showing up in a new way, trying to recapture our time, energy and devotion.

“New level, new devil.”

- Joyce Meyer

What ever we struggle with will show up in different ways to catch us unaware or just waits until we let down our guard or our resolve.

So we keep trekking up this mountain enjoying the company, enjoying the new scenery and keeping watch for those snakes that hide waiting for the right moment to bite.

Let’s face it, if you are an explorer you will get bitten.  Here’s the good news, you will never die from the bite.  You only die if you panic and run away… running pumps the poison to the heart.

You must calmly remove the snake, release the poison, realize that this is part of the process, and continue.

So I continue… with a limp and patched up ankle.

See ya Thursday.

Mar 10

The Cliff

Can you believe it… blog entry #19.  I keep plugging along trying to figure out what to write.  Hopefully it has been helpful to my friends keeping me company, or at least somewhat entertaining.

Our meandering up this mountain hasn’t been too difficult so far and fairly uneventful (except for the cussing spell I had about eight blogs back).

But today is a bit different.  I have started this blog at least five times.  It is a challenge because I am allowing myself to think too much about what you think.

Side Note: For those of you who are new, in blog #3 (Titled:  “The Wall”) I talked about the walls that have kept me trapped.  The main wall I shared is worrying what people think.

So I have to publicly put it in its place again… this blog is for me.  I know you know this but I am saying this for me.  Worrying what people think makes me second guess everything I write.

The truth is, you too need to periodically put things in their place.  The things that have kept you moored to the shore of self preventing you from exploring the vast sea of the unknown.

We all have to do this to assure ourselves a journey that has meaning and reward.

Everyone has these walls that resurface after you have made a decision to move forward.  Don’t be discouraged.

Important Truth:

“You can’t have a breakthrough until you have a breakwith”

- Stephen Covey

So we breakwith again.  And that’s ok.  A few years ago I would have been pretty hard on myself because I had a set back.  Nope, not now.  I don’t care if I have to breakwith every week.  The mountain is mine to climb.  And that’s a good feeling.

For me, a time like this is the part of journey up the mountain where we encounter the sheer face… straight up.   The casual stroll we all enjoy is not in sight.

A few years ago I learned something that has served me well in times like this.  I had an opportunity to go on a 10 day wilderness experience.  One day we spent rock climbing.  Like most life changing learnings it came in the most unexpected way.

I was really nervous climbing the cliff.  Yes, I was harnessed and the ropes safe in the hands of my belayer.  But while climbing the cliff every fiber of my being was screaming at me to HUG THE ROCKS.” My natural instinct was to pull close to the rocks.

But for climbing that is the worst thing to do.  What you must do is counter-intuitive.  Once you have a hand hold and your foot positioned you push your body away from the sheer wall.

The physics are apparent… when the core of your body is away from the face of the wall the weight is forced into the wall through your legs for a better grip.  Conversely, the closer you are to the wall the weight is focused straight down.

The physics may be apparent to some but it was idiocy to my mind.

But this principle is true with most things.  There are times you cannot trust your thinking.  What you must do is counter-intuitive.

For some, joining me on this journey is a big risk.  Push away from the wall… it will make it much easier.

See you later.

Feb 10

That’s Not Fair

Howdy… welcome back.

If you have been reading the last couple of blogs you know by now that I view life as a mountain.  There is a variety of terrain and steepness but there is always a slope.

We are thrown on this mountain by birth.  We had no choice in the matter.  We also had no choice where we landed.  Some entered this journey on a plush meadow that is fairly level… a relatively easy start.  Others immediately found themselves clutching to the side of a cliff barely able to hang on in the hostile environment.  This is not a judgment, just a “what is”.

I don’t know why we don’t all begin life from the same starting line… but we don’t.  It seems unfair. 

Personal Life Learning:  Fair does not mean equal

There are three things that puzzle me at times about life and fairness.

First you have the personal attributes that we are born with.  Some are born smarter or more attractive; some are gifted athletes; others are talented musically or artistically; and then there’s the rest of us.  

Then there is another layer of complexity that knocks the fairness scale totally out of kilter… the environment in which we find ourselves thrown into.   Some people grow up in an envrionment of…

  • Abundance or poverty
  • Loving or emotionally void
  • Supportive or abusive
  • Affirming or critical
  • Goal oriented and go getting or let life happen and just hang on
  • Stoic or emotional
  • Serious or fun
  • Peaceful or conflict
  • (add your own scale to the list)


    “We are like every other American family… dysfunctional”  - Latoya Jackson


    “If you ever start feeling like you have the goofiest, craziest, most dysfunctional family in the world, all you have to do is go to a state fair.  Because five minutes at the fair, you’ll be going, ‘you know, we’re alright. We are dang near royalty.’”                                                                      - Jeff Foxworthy

Finally, (and probably the most confusing of all) life experiences.  No one can sufficiently explain why seemingly random tragedies target certain people.  It makes no sense why a person dies young, abuse, disfiguring accident, cancer at 28, abandonment, on and on ad infinitum.

We as individuals are unique blend of variety and degree of these ingredients.  Then to top it off we are boxed up with other people we live with whom have their own weird life concoction.

Needless to say this can make life very complicated and challenging.  But that is the nature of mountains.  The challenge is great but oh there is so much good that comes from the variety.  Amazing good.

That is why I am committed to routinely tossing a bottle in the ocean (blog # 1) with an encouraging message.  A message that yes, life is unpredictable and unfair but there is so so so very much to enjoy and experience.  The variety that seems like a curse is also an amazing blessing.

But we have to be willing to look beyond our present and know there is more.  If something is stirring deep within you that believes there is more… you are hearing the faint voice calling you to move higher on the mountain.

What a grand adventure.  Later.

Feb 10

Over the Hill

Its time to get up from the rock I’ve been sitting on the last couple of days and continue the trek up the mountain. 

I hope I am not making this mountain thing too philosophical but stick with me for a bit.  I have two key personal learnings regarding this mountain metaphor and life that I hope will be helpful.

First, life is a mountain.  This is not meant to be discouraging… just fact.  Life is not a flat plain.  Because we live on an incline, life constantly requires effort.  It means that it requires effort to just stay where we are. 

          “The only trouble with life is that it is so constant.”  - Anonymous

Since it requires effort to just remain in place it means that more effort is needed to get ahead.  A person who isn’t putting forth any effort doesn’t just come to a stop, in reality they start sliding back down hill. 

Side note:  Anything left unattended deteriorates.  This means anything…

  • Houses
  • Relationships
  • Cars
  • Children
  • Yard
  • Anything

When I finally grasped the life implications of this truth (the Law of Entropy) I began to look at things a lot differently.

It is important that you don’t confuse all effort with work.  Spending your entire life in labor has its own downfalls.  (different topic for a different time)

If you think about it, even fun enjoyable rewarding aspects of life require effort.  You have to make an effort to have friends, enhance your talents, expanding your mind, etc.  All of these bring joy and pleasure but require effort.

Second, you never reach the top… there is always more for you to experience, learn, enjoy, and contribute.  For years I have heard the phrase Over the Hill.    Although it was blurted out in a kidding jabbing sort of way it somehow signified your best days are behind and now you’re headed downward.

What some people believe as Over the Hill is in reality a person sliding back down.

Personal Note:  I know I will age but I never want to grow old

There is no question that as we age our senses start to dull; our bodies aren’t as strong and agile; and sometimes we just get tired.  But it is the journey that keeps us going.  The call from around the next corner, the anticipation of “what’s next”, and the joy going beyond where we thought we could go.

BUT… we are not over the hill!  We just have to be careful to keep from sliding back down the hill.

Very Important Note:  You can’t measure how high you are on the mountain by the amount of money you make, the places you’ve been or the position you hold.  It is something internal not external.

One of the powerful ah ha’s of life came when I was channel surfing one day a few years ago.  I ran across a program of a round table discussion with former child stars.  They were discussing the joys and challenges of the life of a child star.  The ah ha came when one of the former child stars indicated that it was extremely hard to accept that at eleven years of age you have reached your peak in life.

Wow, what a sad, stirring, and powerful statement.  To live with the perceived concept that at age eleven your best years are behind you.  But this is true for a lot of people who frame their life around a specific accomplishment (some athletes for example). 

Another ah ha of the opposite extreme came when reading a book by Chuck Colson called Loving God.

Side Note:  To my non-Christ follower friends… don’t worry I’m not getting preachy.  Just a great story.

Chuck Colson shared the story of Myrtie Howell.  Myrtie was alone at ninety one, living on a fixed income in a depressing home for the elderly.  But Myrtie continued her steps up the mountain by writing to people in prison.  She would contact a prison and ask for names of inmates who didn’t get mail.  So she wrote them.  She became Grandma Howell to many inmates who were alone and unknown.

Humm… it’s interesting to me that I don’t remember the child stars name but I remember Grandma Howell.

The body may give out but there is still more.  The steps smaller and slower, but there’s still more.  Because you see, the higher you get on the mountain the greater the view and greater the reward. 

So I continue to climb.  Wanna join me?

Feb 10

Our Quirky Side

Wow!  It has been a month since I launched the blog.  Kinda cool, but in the bigger scheme of things not that big of a deal.  The bigger question is will I still be actively posting my mental meanderings a year from now?

Frankly I can’t and shouldn’t let myself worry about that.  All I have to do is to be willing to post an entry for today.  And then a couple of days from now be willing to post another.  For too long I put too much pressure on myself to accomplish lofty goals.

The majority of people I know are really motivated by goals.  They set personal and professional goals and then create a plan to accomplish them.  It becomes a strategy game that motivates, focuses, and the reward is attaining the goal.

What I am about to say is very strange.  Me… I’m different.  In fact I feel sort of embarrassed sharing this but I tend to be demotivated by goals.  Yes, I know… weird.

Now I’m going to sound weirder… I have destinations but not goals.  See I told you it would be weird.  I don’t know if I should be worried or not but the statement makes sense to me.

For years I was really bothered by this.  I self analyzed, examined and figuratively speaking, beat myself up.  I’ve got a pretty good handle on all of this now but I am curious what you may think.  Why do you think a person can be demotivated by goals?  Any thoughts?

That’s why movement and direction are so very important to me.  If I keep putting one foot in front of another then I’ll get there.

You may be wondering, what does this have to do with our journey up the mountain?  Everything!

All of us have quirky, weird, unique things that have made our own personal journeys more challenging.  Usually this stuff is more in our heads than reality.  Yet we empower the dumbest things.

The solution… start walking, keep walking, move forward… thus the journey.  I have found that there will always be clutter in and around that will continually compete for our time, energy and most importantly our resolve.  The resolve to place one foot in front of the other and decide not to entertain thinking that distracts.

I will work hard not to be redundant in this blog but there is something I wrote in entry # three “The Wall” worth repeating.  Usually the things that distract seem very rational.

My definition of RATIONALIZE:  Rational Lies

Ciao… Thursday.

Jan 10

The Mountain

Climbing mountains can be hell.  I’m not cussing again, just stating fact.

When you start it’s not too bad… slight incline, new adventure, good company, anticipation of what’s ahead, feeling fresh.  All’s good.

But like most things starting is not the problem, its keeping moving forward when things get tough.  And as we all know, anything of significance will have tough spots.  In fact, I tend to believe that the tough spots are in direct proportion to the significance.  But the good news is… the joy, reward and pleasure are multiplied all the more.

I bring this up because some of you have taken a bold step to join me on a journey.  This risky journey we are going on is going to have its rough patches.  I am not saying this to discourage you but to prepare and challenge you now (while things are still easy) to reaffirm your commitment.

Side note: I know that some of you are scratching your head right now trying to figure out what I am talking about.  You might want to check out the first blog entry “A Bottle in the Ocean” , it will give you a clearer picture.

I am committed to this adventure.  I look back on my life and see the road cluttered with too many with good intentions.  I’m not beating up on myself because I don’t think that I am that different from most people and more importantly I don’t want the clutter behind me to cause me to stumble as I move forward.  I mentioned in an earlier blog entry that movement is key not speed.

Don’t worry this is not going to be a “when the going gets tough the tough get going” pep talk.

But I do want to encourage you.

I have a very dear friend who is a runner… I mean a runner… the marathon type runner.  In fact she qualified for the Boston Marathon.  Very cool!  Anyway just so you know I am NOT a runner.  For some reason I find it boring.

But I digress… when she started running marathons someone suggested that she put her first name on her running jersey.  At first she thought it kinda goofy but gave it a try.  She was amazed at how much it helped.  All along the 26+ miles total strangers would cheer her on by name.  This was especially meaningful when around the 20 mile mark most runners kick into survival mode.

In marathons there are crowds all along the way clapping, cheering, supporting, etc.  But the supportive roar (albeit nice) is generic.

But the personalized cheers of, “Go Vickie”, “Vickie, you can do it!” made a difference.

It will be tiring but let’s keep at it.

See you Monday.

Jan 10

Walkie Talkie

Wow… you’re back.  I wasn’t sure I would see you again after the last blog.  Welcome!  As I said in my first entry, I am taking this journey whether anyone joins me or not but its nice having the company.

Enough of the niceties, the mountain is calling, onward and upward.

Have you ever strolled along a secluded wooded path with someone?  There’s something about nature and a leisurely stroll that stimulates the sensesrelaxes the mind and most especially opens the heart.  Laughter is free and conversation natural.

There is a subtle joy that seeps in as you slowly walk along with your head bobbing up and down… looking up and around at the beauty and then to the path at your feet to secure your next step.  This cadence with the surroundings does something to and in us.  Our guard tends to be lowered and casual conversation about the trees and beauty seamlessly (almost magically) transforms into dialogue about life.

Our deepest and most meaningful conversations are spontaneous, never contrived.  You cannot force deep interaction.  In fact force undermines the very virtue you seek.

Unfortunately deep meaningful conversations are the all too rare… those times when we feel comfortable enough with someone to expose our deeper self, the self below the obligatory niceties.

Side Note: My hallmarks of a meaningful conversation

  • Natural and fluid vs. forced and formal
  • Both are engaged, not one sided
  • Probing but not pushy
  • Questions but not challenging
  • Varied opinions but not judgmental
  • Focus is on my learning and insight vs. trying to change the other person

By the way, have you ever met someone who felt they needed to set people straight?  For what ever reason they feel it is their calling to let you know where you’re wrong or where you’ve failed.

Strange paradox…  deep conversations are not only for people we know.  The amazing thing to me is some of our deepest conversations are with total strangers.  Why is that?  I have my opinions but I would like yours.

I have had amazing conversations with people on planes.  The small seats, tight quarters and background roar of the engines suddenly disappear and your eyes, mind and focus are fixed.  Sadly, I must confess, many of my deepest conversations have been with people I have just met.

I have two other quick observations.  First, deep conversation is a gift of trust, and secondly they are remarkably intimate.

Hold on… I’m not talking about that kind of intimate.  Where is your mind going?  I’m not that kind of guy… you pervert.

Just kidding, just kidding… anything for a cheap laugh or to get a quick rouse out of someone.

You feeling it in your legs yet?  You know… the muscles begin to tighten as we walk up the mountain.  Thank goodness we’re still on a slight incline.  But the rough climbing is ahead as we begin our ascent.

Later… see you Thursday.

Jan 10

Head for the Hills

Hello, me again.

Last time we decided that this is a journey of exploration not destination.  So let’s explore.

I think it would be good to first get our bearings.  It’s important to know where you are.  So we are going to the mountain to look around and get a lay of the land.  We can wander around and decide where to head to next and what dragons we want to slay.

Bumper Sticker I saw yesterday:

“Not all who wander are lost”

We will have plenty of time to go through the valleys, peek in the caves and walk the streams, but right now… off to the mountain.

So I tighten my boots, straighten my pack and off we go.  We will explore as we go.

I love to explore.  I remember as a kid the pure joy of poking around old abandoned houses or attics.  I remember one time digging all around an old farm house because legend had it that one of its occupants buried their life savings during the Great Depression.

Why is exploring so exhilarating and fun?   The DISCOVERY.

There are things that magnify the experience of exploring.  You might say they are the steroids of exploration (sorry Mark).  They are the risks of the unknown, the magnitude of the potential, and the significance of the effort.  All mixed together they create a life cocktail that can be quite intoxicating.

I know people who literally search the globe going to exotic places for a new adventures and discovery.  I have one friend who actually climbed Mt. Everest.  I am not judging this at all.  You see, adventure and discovery is a part of our emotional DNA.

“From the moment of Creation, humankind has felt the pull toward discovery.”

- Penelope Stokes

But there is a question that must be asked, and it is a hard question.   We must ask… am I doing this to fill a hole or to be whole?  So I ask myself and you… am I going on this journey to fill a hole or to be whole? They sound the same but they originate from a totally different center point.  One is out of empty need the other out of fullness expanded.

I personally do not have a hole to be filled.  But God knows that I want the full expanse of being.  I want the whole enchilada of life.  And this has nothing to do with having to experience everything there is in the world.  If anything it is the opposite.  Let me quickly say, I do enjoy experiencing new things and traveling to see the vast beauty and diversity of our world.  But being full (some people say I am full of ”it”, but that is a different topic for a different time) of life and appreciation for the simple brings a wholeness and satisfaction no specific experience can bring.

Side Note:

I know that this may be a bit confusing because as I write it I find myself cocking my head.  But I do know that there is a core truth here… an important truth to grasp.

I feel sort of like the kid who knows there’s a horse in here somewhere.  You may have to dig through the crap to find it.  But it’s there.

Also, as mentioned earlier, this is a journey of discovery not destination.  Filling a hole is a destination.  So if you’re in need of filling a hole… you might be a bit frustrated by this meandering expedition of exploration.  But you’re still more than welcome to tag along.  I always enjoy the company.  And who knows, this may be one of the pieces that leads to filling the hole.

So let’s wander around and explore as we head up the mountain.

Since I am basically pretty lazy I am not looking forward to the climb. Mountains can be very difficult.  I would much prefer a picturesque helicopter ride to the top.  But once again, if I want the full expanse of being then the easy method is not the way to get there.

As we hike up the mountain we’ll chit chat.  I have something important I need to share in my next entry.  Hopefully it won’t cause you to stop traveling with me… but for some it might.

Later… how’s next Thursday?