This week’s blog is part of an ongoing series titled: Leadership Lessons from the Camino de Santiago.
Check out the last two blogs in this series:
In the past several weeks, I have been in contact with a few close friends who have shared with me some of the difficulties and issues that they are currently facing. It would appear that all of these close pals are struggling with the same things. They are going through enormous levels of anxiety, remorse, dread, and a whole host of other emotions that are empowering them in a destructive way. A significant number of these close friends have reached a stage in their lives in which they have achieved a lot of success in their personal and professional lives, as well as in many other aspects of their lives. These are the accomplishments that I notice. These achievements are visible to the entire world.
However, they do not. They are not focusing on them. They are focusing on and stating things like this to me:
Have you ever been here, felt this way, or said things like this?
One of the biggest leadership lessons I learned on the Camino de Santiago with my son, Riley, is this:
Do not compare your journey to anybody else’s. Celebrate the progress you have made in your journey.
Our walk along the Camino consisted of approximately 200,000 steps spread out over the course of six days. On the trail that we were hiking, there was a constant stream of people moving both in front of and behind us at all times. Everyone traveled at their own pace and made their route, but some folks stopped more frequently than others to rest and rearrange their gear. Everyone arrived where they needed to be, but each did so in their own unique way.
The little concrete pillars that are embedded in the ground along the Camino de Santiago are one of the aspects of the pilgrimage that will stick with you the most. Every kilometer that we hiked, we came across anywhere from three to four of these locations. The pillar made of concrete would indicate precisely where you were on the Camino de Santiago in terms of the number of kilometers that remained. Every time we lowered the number by one, it was a reminder of how much further we had come and a cause for a teeny-tiny celebration of how far we had come.
On one hand, it became easy to forget about these pillars and not notice them as we settled into our journey, on the other hand, it also became easy to begin to compare how far along we were (or were not) compared to others.
Have you forgotten about your pillars and the things you have accomplished? Do you have a hard time celebrating your wins and progress made? Do you fall into the comparison trap?
Social media and the world around us are filled with messages that tell us we are not good enough, wealthy enough, fit enough, sexy enough, enough of a husband or wife, mother or father, entrepreneur, leader, etc. Everywhere we go, from our drive around town to our mobile devices, we are just a glance or a click away from a message that can draw our focus onto the “would have”, “should have”, “could have”, “wish I had”, “need to get”, “not enough”, types of mindsets. They draw our attention away from our pillars of progress, and the accomplishments we have made.
On one of the days that we were walking the Camino, my friend Riley and I decided to take a break and take a picture of one of the pillars along the trail when we still had about 10 kilometers to go. We stood there for a minute, and then we gave each other a high five and a big hug, recalling and celebrating the fact that we had climbed more than 100 kilometers over the course of the previous five days, and we only had a few more kilometers to go. This brought both of us an incredible amount of delight at the same time! Together, we felt a sense of accomplishment, excitement, vitality, and motivation to press on with our trip.
My challenge and encouragement to you today is to celebrate your pillars of progress. A couple of tips on how to do this and things to consider are:
Just remember, the more you focus on comparing your journey to the journey of others, the less wonderful your journey becomes. Keep moving forward, keep up all the great work, believe in yourself, and remember why you are taking the journey you are in the first place.
Remember 3 things:
I love you.
I believe in you.
You’ve got this.
Now, go get it!