Sunday, July 26, 2009

Climbing the Mountain

Picture this analogy. The top of the mountain is your goal. Whether that mountain top represents your work, your ideal partnership, your aspirations to write a book, paint pictures, make films, plant a beautiful garden, become a joyful and fluid dancer, to play a musical instrument, to make pottery out of clay, to work on an archeological dig, to go back to school and earn a degree in another field, to start your own business and have it become profitable so that it alone will support you.

Whatever you set as your goal is the top of the mountain.

Now consider how avid hikers approach the mountian. Their goal is to get to the top. So what do they do? They look at everything that is in their backpack and start taking out everything that they do not need, because everything they carry weighs something. So if they can leave things behind, that makes it more possible to reach the top.

Backpackers take a good look at everything and see it in a way that other people do not. They look at ways to take the things they need but without the extra parts. They look at ways to reduce the weight of what they need. There are essentials like food, water, a first aid kit, a knife, a sweater, a rain poncho. The question underlying all of it is: how do I make it so that I have everything I need while carrying as light a pack as possible? That is an important part of what allows me to get to the top of the mountain.

I had that experience when I moved here, and I had to pack light. Things that I thought I would always have suddenly had no place in my next stage of the journey. What I discovered when I got here is that I could, in fact, live well without all those things, and I managed to find replacements for everything I really needed, and a few other things I liked simply for the sheer joy and beauty.

When we look at our belongings, for example, and we are trying to start a new business, and that business needs capital, then we can either take on the burden of debt, try and find others who will give us loans and so on.

And there is another choice. We can look at all the stuff we have in closets or storage and see if we can turn it into cash to fund the new venture. We can look at all the things in our living space and see what can be sold. Can we do without it or will a less expensive model serve the purpose quite well while the collector's item or luxury edition funds the new business?

We find the same is true for beliefs and concepts. I had one friend years ago who thought that his target market for what he was selling was one thing, but as he got going, he discovered that his best customers wanted something else. A person who is too certain of their own beliefs might have kept pushing the original concept, and may or may not have found success. My friend followed the customer's lead and emphasized what they wanted and de-emphasized the original plan, and he became successful.

The question we each face is what weight are we willing to leave behind in order to get to the top of the mountain?

Are we focused on that goal? Would we sell an old keepsake in order to get to the top? Would we be willing to condition ourselves with many short hikes in order to get ready for the longer hike? Would we be willing to wear a pair of funny looking shoes or a funny looking hat if that's what it took?

If selling a watch, piece of jewelry, a piece of furniture, a piece of art or a collectible item provides us the money to fund our new business, and that new business will provide us income for this year and the years after, is it not worth it to let go of the things we have been carrying?

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