Life and Business Lessons Learned From A Hike Across Spain, Step by Step
I smile to myself as I think back to all the signs that I have ignored in life because I had already invested too much money or time into a project. Yes, I have built and sold a few successful businesses, but there have also been a few businesses and ideas that have not exactly gone to plan. At which point do you decide that you need to read the signs and hang up your gloves or throw in the towel? This is a lesson that took me a long time to master (and if I am honest, I am not sure that I have got there 100% yet!).
An early bird does not always catch the worm
On a solo Camino trip in October 2017, I left the small town of Los Arcos bright and early (around 6 am). It was still dark but I had my shoe lights and I was on a mission to get going. The previous day I had said goodbye to my Camino sister, Lou , who I had been walking with the previous few days. Lou wanted to continue on to the next village so that the following days walk to Logrono was not a long one. In my mind, if I left at 6am, then walked at a good pace, I would catch her up and surprise her with a big hug. I had Ed Sheran playing in my ears and the road to the first village, Torres del Río (which is where Lou was staying) was only 4 miles away, so I should be there by 8 am at the latest.
Unfortunately, due to lack of concentration, or rather concentrating on my singing abilities rather than watching out for yellow arrows, I had walked a mile in the wrong direction. By the time I reached Torres del Río it was still dark and I decided to push on to the next village where I would grab some breakfast. It was now 8 am and I had not eaten or even consumed any coffee. My body was coping purely on my competitiveness as I wanted to catch up with my friend.
I walked through the small town in the dark and arrived at a crossroads. There were no arrows in sight and I couldn't understand where I had gone wrong? I sat in a bus stop and took a swig of water before giving myself a bit of a talking too. I had seen an Albergue where pilgrims were eating breakfast, so I decided to walk back into the town and take a break. I was annoyed with myself that I had wasted so much time today by walking in the wrong direction. I walked back to the albergue in a bit of a huff, resigning to the fact that I will probably never see Lou again.
If you make a mistake, it is ok to turn back!
I arrived at the small hostel and I had the most amazing breakfast. I hadn't realised how hungry I was and that my body needed caffeine! I got chatting to a few pilgrims that I had not met before and before I knew it I was taking their photo and quizzing them over their luxury items. One lady had been collecting walnuts on the trail and leaving them at each hostel for other pilgrims to enjoy. Another pilgrim (Adam) had his comfy old trainers on that were falling apart at the seams, so his luxury item was a tube of shoe-glue! These stories lifted my spirits and I was ready to hit the road again with a new found energy.
I lifted my rucksack (Nellie) onto my back, grabbed my walking poles and ventured out into the street. It was now daylight and the sun warmed my face. To my surprise, there in the middle of the street was a HUGE yellow arrow. There was also a yellow arrow on the wall in front of me, and another one just up the road pointing to the left. How on earth had I missed these just an hour before? It was as if the Camino was looking after me and knew that I needed a break. I smiled to myself and said a private thank you to the Camino who had provided for me once again.
A long road into Logrono
The walk between Los Arcos and Logrono is a long one. The fields seem to go on forever and it is a good section of the Camino where you have the opportunity to do lots of thinking. Many decisions were made about my future that day and in a way, I am glad that I never caught up with Lou. I now see that I needed some solitude and that the Camino showing me the way.
I finally reached the amazing city of Logrono around 1 pm. It is one of my favourite Cities on the Camino. As I was checking into the hostel, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around to see my good friend Lou grinning like a Cheshire cat! She hugged me and we both shared a few tears of joy. We went out for something to eat that evening and we have been good friends ever since.
Sometimes in life, you need to acknowledge that you have made a mistake. Whether that is a long term relationship, a career decision, a business decision or even going for a walk, if you know in your gut that you are heading in the wrong direction then I urge you to stop, take stock, have some solitude and realise that sometimes in life you need to go backwards, before you can move forward in the right direction. One of the best books that I have read about looking out for the signs in life is The Alchemist. If you have not read it, and you enjoy a fable style of book, then please check it out.
Thank you for reading this blog.