In the summer of 2011, I lived in Denver and had decided I was going to climb as many 14'ers as I could that summer because I planned to move back to Seattle early the next year.
For those that may not know what a "14er" is, it's a peak whose summit is 14,000 feet above sea-level.
I ended up climbing six that summer and it taught me a lot.
Before climbing a mountain, you're usually able to see the summit when you start out and you say to yourself “in a few hours I’ll be up there. At the top.”
Once you begin, when you’re on the mountain, you lose sight of the peak. You have to trust that the trail will get you there.
Eventually, you start to feel like it’s taking too long. That you should have reached the summit by now. You feel tired. You think about turning around. But you keep going. You know you just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other and trust the process. Be deliberate. Then, after hours of hiking, you can see the summit again. You feel a surge of energy and start to forget how you’ve felt leading up to this point.
You make it to the top, but a funny thing happens. It’s not until you're back down and can sit and reflect on what you accomplished that you start to understand the magnitude of what you actually did that day. When you stay the course and trust the process it’s actually the process that you reflect on the most.
It feels good to have experienced the challenge and to have overcome the unexpected obstacles that popped up. But you realize it's the process that you’re most proud of.
Each day, at some point, you’re working through the process of accomplishing something. Once you accomplish it, you begin another process. Or you may already be partway through the process of something else.
When you wake up tomorrow, think about the possibility that today will be different than yesterday. That often, you have a choice to make it different. That the process is what makes life great. Because we may never reach the summit in some of the things we choose to do in life. Sometimes, there is no summit.
For instance, what's the summit of your career? When you reach it, are you done? Is that it? You've made it to the top and it's time to quit?
It's likely just another door that opens to more possibility. More choices. More of the process
Embrace the process. Meet the challenges head-on. That’s what you’ll really look back on. That’s what you’ll end up being most proud of.
It’s the process that makes us who we are. Not the accomplishments. The accomplishments are the by-products of the process and they're only the stepping stone to the next accomplishment.