Every day, Facebook gives me the chance to look back over the posts I’ve made on that date in previous years. I rarely take up this opportunity to review my past: my (lifetime) habitual behaviour has been to look to the future, plotting and planning big goals and aspirations to keep me motivated and moving forward.
However, for some reason this morning I did look, saw this photo and was immediately reminded of a life-changing insight which I gained when I summited Mt Kilimanjaro 7 years ago today. I was struggling with altitude sickness and feeling totally dispirited whenever I looked up at the summit, wondering how on earth I was going to make it to the top. One of the young blokes in the group could see I was struggling and came to offer support. When I explained how I was feeling, he very simply turned me round so I could look back down the mountain and said ” Yes Lis, but give yourself a break – look how far you’ve come already.”
When I turned round and saw the valley floor in the distance, I was truly gob-smacked as to how far I’d come, just one step at a time. I burst into tears, because I suddenly realised that the climb up the mountain had become a metaphor for how I’d lived my life up until that point: constantly pushing myself in order to ‘get to the top’ but never stopping to pat myself on the back and acknowledge my own efforts and successes. In that moment I was reminded that I was standing on the tallest, most iconic mountain in Africa, about to witness the curvature of the earth with my own eyes. I was truly in the moment, able to see how resourceful and tenacious I’d been to even be on this incredible adventure in the first place, whether or not I made it to the top.
Too late for the spoiler alert! I’ve already revealed that I did make it to the top (48% don’t, so the fear of possible failure was certainly driving me) and here’s the picture to prove it. So why did I choose this morning to look back at my past? Who knows, but it has proved to be very timely. Because right now, I need to remind myself to share how I’m feeling with my team, ask for the support I need and give myself a break! Why? Because I’ve set myself another big goal which will keep me out of mischief for the next 30 years! When you next bump into me, please turn me round and make me look back down my mountain of experience and be my own witness as to how far I’ve come and how much I’ve learned along the way.