Stepping into the Light
Earlier this week, a friend of mine, Michaela Wild released her book, One Step at a Time.
It chronicles her external and internal journey, last year, to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. The title comes from one of the key messages for the climbers on the Mountain Leadership Experience - run by K2 Adventures Foundation and Blair Singer – the only way to make it to the top is to take one step at a time.
And that is true about life. The way to get through it is to take one step at a time, one moment at a time, and as the leaders and guides cautioned the climbers, one breath at a time.
It reminded me of an experience I had many years ago when I was training to be a career coach. We were in a big hall with really high ceilings. It was quite a dark room, the kind of room that you have the light on during the day because the windows were set high on the walls. So high that you couldn’t reach them and they couldn’t be opened, so the only fresh air came from opening the fire doors. The windows were small as in not very wide. A couple of feet high and less than a foot wide, long and skinny glass (if glass can be long and skinny) or vertical louvre-like. They spanned the length of the hall and looking up you saw glass, then wall, then glass, then wall.
On this day we were asked to do an exercise. We were asked to walk around the room in silence, in whatever direction we wished and just see what thoughts came to us. This was a few weeks in and beyond noticing the windows were high etc I’d paid them no attention. But on this morning as I walked, the sun was shining down one side of the room and on the floor, I noticed a slash of light where the sun came through and dark where it was blocked by the wall.
Light, then dark, then light, then dark etc. And as I took each step one light, the next dark, then light, then dark, something spoke to me.
‘This is what life is like sometimes light, sometimes dark, light then dark. Light then dark.’
‘When you are going through the dark times, always remember that if you keep moving then you will eventually come to the light.’
And this has proven to be true. And because I know this to be true the dark times never seem to feel so dark.
It’s a very timely reminder as I make my way through the difficult stage of building a business, the stage that the online coaches who can “help you grow your business income from zero to thousands in weeks” never tell you about. You know that bit where you feel like you’re swimming through treacle and the ROI is not proportionate to the work you’re putting in. And I can reassure myself that though it may feel dark – actually not so dark, maybe a bit heavy, the light will come.
I remembered this experience last night as I reflected on Michaela’s book, One Step at a Time. The book is well written and takes the reader through the experience from the day the idea was planted in her mind, through to reaching the summit and the descent. There is an account of her training process and Michaela chronicles each day in Tanzania, both on Kilimanjaro and the time spent at a local orphanage. Michaela talks about each day’s experience, reflects on what she learned then concludes each chapter with inspirational thoughts and ideas for the reader. It’s not a very long book and is quite an easy read. The final chapter is written by Sylvia Martin who relates, very briefly, her experience of the climb.
Last night I was walking home up a hill. As usual I started to lengthen my stride because I wanted to get through the steep bit quicker. I was getting out of breath when I remembered something else from the book; a quote from a video.
“We walk extremely slowly, and always focus on just on the next step at these heights. It’s only about the next step, about the next breath. Everything else does not matter. The full focus is on the next step.”
I had heard these words before. I had seen the video. And as I attempted to hurtle up the hill (having already walked nearly twice my daily steps target) it came back to me and I stopped, shortened my steps, regulated my breath and instantly felt better. And it seemed like the hill was sending a message directed at me about my business, where it currently is, and where I would like it to be. And not just for me, but for every one of us who is working hard and going through what feels hard. Whether it's it in business or it's in life. A message about acceptance of where we are, respect for that which we can’t control and more importantly, self-care. We need to keep our strength, and not try to go too fast. One small step at a time, breathe, keep going and eventually, the light will come. And in the mean time we continue to learn and grow.
Sometimes we need a book to remind us.
One Step at a Time by Michaela Wild can be found at Amazon UK and Amazon.com