Life and Business Lessons Learned From A Hike Across Spain, Step by Step
In my business life, I am very driven. I never really understood why joint ventures with other people didn't really work out until the penny dropped whilst walking the Camino. You need to march to the beat of your own drum. When you are walking the path that you want to walk then the feeling of being content and pain-free is the best feeling in the world!
I must admit, it has taken me five Camino trips and endless blisters to make me realise that we all need to walk at our own pace in life otherwise there are consequences.
On that very first day in the Pyrenees, I found it difficult to walk as slow as Rachel and Julie, especially on the uphills. My stress levels were at an all-time high as I was becoming increasingly frustrated that they were taking so long to climb the mountain. This was meant to be a stress-free, enlightening trip and here I was getting angry and annoyed with the people that I love because they couldn't keep up. What was that all about?
If you are walking with someone who has a different pace than you, then this can cause all sorts of problems. Walking too fast to try to keep up with someone else can cause friction between your feet and your shoes, which ultimately causes blisters. Walking with someone who walks much slower than you can cause problems with your hips and your back.
I recall the first time on the Camino when we made the decision to go our separate ways and walk our own hike. On day three, in Zubiri, Julie was up early and Rachel and I were taking our time to get ready. Julie likes to get going as soon as she is awake, however, my then 13-year-old daughter Rachel needed time to wake up. If Rachel does not have breakfast then the beast is woken and life is just not very pleasant! Julie had made me a coffee and was chomping at the bit to get going. She had seen that the next village was only a few miles away and she had it all worked out as to where we could grab breakfast and a coffee. I knew that both Rachel and I had no intentions of walking anywhere without something inside us, so I suggested that Julie carries on, and we will catch her up a bit later.
We are all different, but it is important in life to do what works for you. Julie left that morning and it wasn't long before we caught up with her at a cafe where she had met new friends and was enjoying a leisurely breakfast. She was chilled out and the stress of her needing to “get going” was completely gone. Rachel was happy as we had taken our time and she had a belly full of hot warm croissants and sweet tea. I was happy because everyone else was happy!
Rachel is now 16 years old and she towers above me. Her gait is much longer than mine and if we walk together then I often find myself trotting to keep up! Once again, I found myself saying “you go ahead, and I will meet you at the next cafe, or albergue”. I knew that keeping up with her speed would eventually cause problems, and it did. I suffered from shin-splints (which are extremely painful), and I also had blisters that were the size of walnuts on the heels of my feet. When I slowed down and walked at a pace I was comfortable with (I had no choice as I simply could not walk fast!), my body began to heal and my mind became more content.
If it's not right, then fix it
After returning from the Camino I knew things in my business life were not right. I was no longer challenged as my marketing agency business was surviving and thriving easily without me (which I know is every business owners dream). I was slowing down and letting others in my business storm ahead. The business was now playing its own drum and was being led by someone else. It was time to make a decision. Do I step it up a gear and take the business in a new direction, or do I continue to empower my team to move the business forward whilst I get my teeth into something new? One thing was for sure, this no-mans-land was not fun.
It was time to ask myself some serious questions. Where was my challenge in life? What drum did I need to beat now?
If there was one thing that I learned from the Camino is that life you only get one chance in life. You need to listen to your heart and do what is right for you, not what is right for everyone else. We make sacrifices for other people consistently throughout our lives, which is absolutely fine and I am not criticising that, but when we look after ourselves first and our own mind and heart are at peace, then you are a much better person to be around. Happiness is contagious. If you are happy then so will the people that you surround yourself with. If you don't believe me then try smiling at a stranger today and see what happens!
Thank you for reading this blog.