22 Jun Self Reliance on the Colorado Trail

Purpose, Planning and Focus. That’s what I thought about over the course of backpacking 16 hours covering 40 miles. And how much my feet hurt!

Regarding purpose – that was easy. I needed some quiet alone time to just plain reflect. What surprised me was how I would try to focus on a topic I wanted to think about, and how easy it was to get distracted by the trail. With 5,500 feet of climbing, a lot of attention would go to where each step was placed on which rocks. Not unlike the daily distractions that come with leadership challenges.

The nice thing about backpacking is the planning and preparation. I like looking at maps and imagining what the trail will be like. With experience, you can predict and foresee challenges from studying maps. I also enjoy planning the logistics of food and equipment based on weather, terrain and the duration of the trip. Planning is an ongoing endeavor, and even on the trail, adjustments and modifications are needed.

Regarding focus, being 20 miles into a wilderness area requires focus and attention, because cell phones don’t work, and rescue could take a long time. Focus means paying attention to water sources, terrain, weather, animals (i.e., rattlesnakes and bears), and purpose. If my main goal was to just plain reflect (and have fun), I needed to make sure I was stopping to smell the Columbines!

As to self-reliant leadership, my reflections focused on making sure that when you’re planning, you’re planning. When you’re executing, to make sure you focus. And to make sure that where you spend your time is consistent with your overall purpose. No outright epiphany per se on this excursion, but a little physical hardship is always a good way to appreciate all the things that are easy to take for granted.

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