In November 2013, I spent 10 days in Nepal trekking in the Himalayan Mountains. There were no paved roads above 10,000 feet, which meant no motorized vehicles.
It was just silence and the unfamiliar.
Beneath the quiet sky, we ascended, descended, and ascended more, for hours each day. Around every turn was wind, sun, and endless ranges of jagged peaks shooting toward the heavens.
To move to the next mountainside, we’d cross a wire bridge hanging over a rushing turquoise river that crashed through boulders as big as houses.
We were led by a Sherpa guide named Lakpa.
It seemed that Lakpa knew the landscape down to the individual stones on the path. Without him, it’d have been something between a frustrating hike and a dangerous struggle. With him, it was an adventure, even a pilgrimage.
Lakpa seemed aware that we were doing something bigger than just climbing a mountain.
He helped us see amazing things we’d have otherwise trudged right past…like the rare Snow Leopard he spied with his bare eyes as it hunted mountain goats far away on the next mountainside.
We saw nothing.
He shouted and pointed excitedly, “Looooook! Loooook! Loooook!” We needed binoculars to recognize the speck he was pointing to. We were in awe of what we saw.
Lakpa knew the dangers.
Sometimes, I’d try to climb an incline too quickly in the thin air. Before I was aware of my error, Lakpa would have already appeared behind me out of nowhere to gently instruct “Slow. Slow.” in my ear.
An experienced guide made all the difference.
Lakpa knew the terrain and the surroundings, having traveled it many times. He brought the mountains and the people and the paths to life in a way none of us could have imagined on our own.
It sounds cliché, but that journey changed my life. After he showed us his world, I saw my world anew.
It’s the classic combination for transformation anyone can use:
- unfamiliar territory and
- a knowledgeable guide.
It’s such a classic 1-2 combo, it’s in our favorite stories. The combination created some pretty remarkable results for Luke Skywalker with Yoda and for Frodo Baggins with Gandalf as they faced unyielding challenges.
And it’s worked for any person who’s ever ventured beyond their former limitations — like you.
Sometimes you choose the challenge — like I chose my trek.
Sometimes, it chooses you.
Either way, the opportunity to be transformed is there. Especially with a guide who knows the territory well.
Your world may not change, but you’ll never approach things the same, after.
What’s your perspective?
Life or work might be twisting you like a pretzel right now, full of daunting challenges. Are you making it a struggle?
Or do you understand this is the threshold to your transformation?…..if you play along.
It’s easier to understand there’s a breakthrough coming when you’re hiking with a guide in Nepal or watching a movie you know will end well.
It’s more difficult to trust in when it’s real life and the stakes are high.
But in every messy situation, the possibility is still there — especially with good guidance. While I’m no Lakpa, that’s even the role I play for my clients when their challenges are great.
Is something kicking your butt right now?
While your struggle may feel unusual and unique to you, you’re reliving a pattern as old as humankind. It’s the challenge and the inherent possibility of wisdom and strength.
Are you fighting it or flowing with it? (Hint: “Use the Force, Luke.” Lean into what’s possible.) And find someone who knows this territory better than you for guidance.
P.S. I have dropped off the grid to camp and canoe in the Boundary Waters of Canada. Of course, I chose my guide wisely. Here’s hoping I don’t recognize the new man who returns. And the same for you in your adventures.