A couple summers ago my family and I enjoyed a vacation in Colorado. This is a place we had never been together and it offered some amazing sites and experiences. These are, and should be, the times that we do things to bring us closer together and create memories. In addition, it can be a time to learn important life lessons. Such was the case when we were at the Winter Park Ski resort.
The weather was cold, overcast, and stormy when we arrived, so we were not able to do what we had planned. In the summer, the resort has a ride that allows you to zip down the mountain on a path in a small cart, but during the rain it is closed down. Following the rain we were walking around the resort and came upon a side of the mountain that looked like you could hike up the face. A debate ensued between two of my brothers-in-law as to how long it would take to get to the top of that particular mountain. The only way to settle the debate was to time someone, so off they went.
As they began to hike, three of the children joined the climb; among them was my 14-year-old son, Sam. When the first four hikers got about half way up, my two other sons, Roy, 19 and Ben, 16, decided they needed to climb it as well. Realizing the opportunity upon us, my wife, Kim, daughter, Faith, 12, and I, also decided to make the trek up the steep hillside. Now, this is Colorado and all of us are Floridians, so right off the bat the thin mountain air was going to be an issue. Factor in the steepness of the hillside, weight, and fitness levels, the climb was going to prove more challenging than some may have expected.
There were moments along the way where it got very difficult – the incline, the slippery footing, and the distance – at some point some even had second thoughts, but we pressed on. Ultimately my sons and I made it to the top of the mountain. My wife and daughter each made it to a point that they knew pushed them beyond their expectations.
We all climbed and achieved something important in our relationships together and in knowing more about our own abilities and limitations. We all succeeded, took a risk together, and came out of the experience with a great memory and a new appreciation for each other.
The most satisfying moment for me was when my oldest son looked at me as we stood together at the top of the mountain and said, “I’m glad I finished and I just want to sit here for a moment and take in the view. Next time I will do it without stopping to rest.” He understood the real meaning of this experience and I expect he will do just what he says because of two distinct and different things he felt along the way. First, the pleasure of achieving the goal and second, the pain it took to get there. Both are equally important contributors to our growth and development.
The boys and I each found a rock along the way and brought it back to remember the experience. These rocks will remind us of the challenges and success we found on that mountainside together. In life we all find ourselves looking up the mountain, questioning our abilities and facing our fears. Embrace the challenge and remember these six important lessons from our experience.
1. Doing something difficult and outside of your comfort zone will produce pain, which is the only way you will learn something.
2. Having people around you to provide support, a helping hand, and encouragement will most certainly bring success.
3. Halfway through a difficult challenge you will want to quit and that is the point at which you must persevere to get through to the next stage.
4. Perseverance is the seed that plants courage in your soul, and building your courage will help you find and take on new challenges to grow.
5. The greatest regret is not that you don’t achieve success, but in not even trying, because even if you come up short you will learn more about yourself and what is next for you.
6. Memorialize your greatest challenges so you will always have something to remind you of your successes and failures…both of which provide you with important lessons and opportunities.
When you face your mountain, climb it.
More importantly, take time to build solid relationships around you so that when you arrive at the base of the mountain, you will have a team of people with you to help you get to the top.