A few summers ago, I had some extra time on my hands, so I decided to hike part of the Appalachian Trail for a simple day hike. With a back-pack with my day-kit of a small first aid kit, my compass, a map, and enough food and water for the day, Lexi and I struck out to see what adventures we could find. The trail started out simple enough, well marked and white blazed. We had to snake along a few twists and turns, then we started gaining elevation. The trail turned from pine needle and dirt based to gravel, to rock. After hiking another half mile, the trail turned into flat rock, where the blazes were painted on the smooth, flat surface. A couple branches were across the trail, and wondering if there had been a blow-down, I stepped over them, and kept walking. The trail became predictable, and I started to “zone out” and think about how beautiful the trees were, how lovely a day, and how fun it was that Lexi and I were out enjoying ourselves in the beautiful Western Mountains of Maine.
After another half mile, I started to think to myself “when was the last time I saw a blaze?” I realized that in my daydreaming, I hadn’t been paying attention to blazes. I sat down, pulled out my map and compass and realized I was off trail. I decided my best course of action was to double back until I found a blaze. As soon as I saw the branches across the trail again, I realized what I did. Some other hikers had left a subtle sign to warn other hikers that the trail no longer followed the rocky path, but diverted off to the right into the woods. Sure enough I looked down the path that cut from the rock trail, and saw a blaze on a tree.
Sometimes, when we are striving for our goals, we get mindless in our day to day routines. One day, we wake up, and realize we are significantly off course. When was the last time I looked at my financials? When was the last time I took inventory of my resources? When was the last time I had coffee with people in my network? When is the last time I came up for air? So often, we miss our goals because we aren’t consciously checking in, and taking notice of our surroundings or situation.
When striving for your goals, be deliberate and mindful. You must be consciously aware of your surroundings at all times, and continually check in with yourself. How is this process working for me? How are my customers/clients doing – are they happy with the work I am providing? Are my employees satisfied working here? Is my family getting their needs met? Are my needs being met?
When we don’t check in, we miss subtle signs that we are off course and headed in the wrong direction. Today, on your M.A.P, write down some key activities you can do to check in. Could you send a customer satisfaction survey? Take your employees out to lunch? Take a friend out for coffee? Sit down and talk with your spouse about your goals, dreams and adventures. Take time to check in – stay mindful on this journey – don’t miss the subtle signs.
Hit the Heights!
Priscilla Hansen Mahoney
The Natural Business Leadership Guide