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Hiking, climbing, foundations and summits of success — Business Currents

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Columnist Joe Molineaux with Julia Thornton, Michael Thornton, Olivia Molineaux and Tom Thornton atop Old Rag Summit in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.

I find motivation for writing about business in many nonbusiness activities I enjoy. Last year, I took a giant leap of faith and took on some camping and hiking up a real mountain, Slide Mountain in the Catskills of New York, with an elevation of 4,200 feet. It was not an activity I had ever tried and it was daunting and tiring, to say the least.

I trusted the fact that my fellow adult hiker, Tom Thornton, was experienced and knowledgeable to lead me through a successful adventure. And that he did. In addition to his leadership and guidance, that he shared the entire trip with me, he also helped educate his daughter Julia and my daughter Olivia on what we needed to know to survive and thrive on that specific trip. One last note about that experience: During the trip, Tom seemed very interested in a skill I displayed that helped allow us to find our way back through the woods and thick brush as we returned multiple times to our campsite and back to civilization. It was during the trip that Tom bestowed on me my wilderness nickname of “Dead Reckoning.” If you look it up is an actual skill and I have now adopted it as my personal super power.

So the next adventure was planned for this spring. This time Tom, Julia, Olivia and I were joined by Thornton family member Michael on the overnight trip. I am happy to report we hiked and climbed Old Rag Circuit Hike. This is a 9.2 mile, 7.5 hour, very strenuous, 2,380 foot elevation gain with a summit of 3,192 feet in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Unlike the previous trip last year, this trip included something called “a rock scramble”. If you look it up you will be as surprised as I was that I completed it as part of the entire day hike.

Again, I was facing uncharted territory. I had very little idea of what challenges and difficulties lie ahead. Like the previous trip, I prepared myself for a level of uncertainty.

Actually, that level of uncertainty made me think about what I did know about footing, footwear, foundations and summits, and how that relates to business. Here are a few thoughts I picked up on the trail this time to help you and your business climb the mountain and move forward:

A foundation of knowledge is studying and using the map: Develop a business plan or strategy. Use a plan that is developed by you and your trusted advisers, and follow that map.

A foundation of teamwork: There were so many times during the most difficult parts of the hike we needed to work together to conquer parts of the rock scramble and other challenges of the day. In business, having a solid team and working together can carry you through very difficult times and challenges.

A foundation of awareness: Always be and stay aware. The importance of this dawned on me during the most treacherous portions of the hike. We needed to be aware of the terrain around us, the moves we were making and the results of every decision along the hike. This was accomplished through a focus on each and every step. You have to look far enough ahead to be safe, but not so far ahead that you disregard or underestimate the obstacles in front of you. In business, know what you may face but stay focused on what is directly ahead of you if you want to keep moving forward.

The “Summit of Success”: Four miles into our 9-mile hike, we reached the summit. There were a few times we thought we were close to the summit just to realize there were false summits. When it comes to business, you will reach actual summits and even false summits along your path to success. However, treasure the views and accomplishments of each summit, while still knowing opportunities to reach other great heights are in front of you.

While this hiking trip was one of the most difficult journeys I have ever taken on foot, it was also one of the most rewarding. It also resulted in a few foundations for business that I hope lead you to more “Summits of Success.”

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