How Entrepreneurship is Like Climbing a 14er

Tim and I have made it a goal of ours to hike at least one 14er a year. I wasn’t sure if we were going to get one in during 2018, but luckily, my parents were able to watch the kids and the weather cooperated. Plans were made and we hopped in the van with all our hiking gear and headed for Mt. Bierstadt. This is the last one of the easy five 14ers we wanted to do before tackling more technically challenging summits.

The hike went well. I only felt like I might lose my fingers once, and for the most part, we kept a good pace and had a great time talking about life. We got our Christmas lists figured out, planned several family adventures, and reconnected after months of chaos and busyness. We needed this.

This hike gave me more than re-connection, however. I believe the Creator granted me a natural example of what it looks like to embark upon the path of entrepreneurial work. Here’s how hiking our latest 14er relates to entrepreneurship:

Trail head energy and excitement--

Every time Tim and I start on a new 14er, we are excited and filled with anticipation. We have spent time learning about the trail and what to expect, we have packed accordingly, and we can see the summit in the distance. It’s thrilling. Starting on the path of building a business is so similar. You plan, you anticipate, you talk up your idea, people get excited alongside you. It’s new. It’s an adventure. You are so ready for this!

Self Doubt and Loss of Resolve--

You will want to turn around at several points. The first couple miles below treeline are usually really pleasant. You’re moving and working, but it doesn’t feel that difficult. Then, you start to hit higher elevations and tougher ascents. All of a sudden, you’re breathing hard with each step, you have to take more breaks. Above treeline, the wind start to burn your face. It’s getting much harder now and you start to question your resolve and your abilities….”can I do this?” “why am I doing this?” “this is too hard...maybe another time….” “this isn’t fun anymore…” For those who have been in business for awhile, you know this point. You know the mind games that occur when things start getting hard and “unfun.” If you haven’t experienced this yet, you will and it’s just good to know it’s coming. Entrepreneurship is a roller coaster ride of emotions. Good and bad.

lmportance of Companionship--

when you are hiking something as challenging as a 14er, it is best not to go alone, same with running your own business. I’m not suggesting you go into business with a friend (that’s actually a really bad idea…), but make sure you have understanding, supportive family and friends that can walk alongside you while you climb. You will need folks to bounce ideas off, someone to console you if things aren’t working, and someone who can look you in the eye and speak truth to you. Not just truth about reality, but deep truth about your identity. Someone who will say, ”You can do this, I believe in you.”

Flexibility and Adjustments --

At the beginning of our hike, we started with coats, gloves, etc. After hiking for awhile, we started to get warm and needed to adjust our gear. Then, as we got higher and the wind picked up, we had to adjust again. We were changing our clothes about every hour and we would set goals for ourselves..."let’s try to make it to that next cairn and then we will take a break"….sometimes we would go further and sometimes we wouldn’t make it to the cairn before needing to rest. 14ers push you to your limits. You can plan and be strategic (very good things), but you need to be flexible and adjust as you go. Same with entrepreneurship. Maybe the market changes, maybe a sponsor drops out, maybe an amazing opportunity comes that you weren’t expecting. Be willing to adjust. It’s crucial to survival in hiking and business.

Possibility of Failure--

Every time we start a hike, Tim looks me in the eye and asks…”are you going to be ok if we have to turn around and can’t finish this hike?” He knows me all too well. He knows that not finishing something I’ve set out to do feels like absolute death to me. It’s taken years and years for me to be ok with failure. I still struggle with it, but I’ve made a lot of progress. On hikes, weather changes quickly and might make finishing your hike impossible. Sometimes, your body just gives out, or an injury happens or you don’t have the right gear. These things happen. The same can be said for grand, entrepreneurial ideas. Sometimes they fail, but that doesn’t mean you are a failure. You accept the situation and let yourself know that you aren’t done and you’ll try again soon. And take that failure and learn from it. Don’t let it be a wasted experience. Find out what you should do differently next time.

What do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts and how you've experienced these similarities in other ways.

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