The Grind (#184)
Three years ago, inspired by Brian Scudamore and Cam Herold, I wrote a Vivid Vision for our company describing what Acceleration Partners will look and feel like by January 1st, 2020. It includes some very ambitious goals, most of which we’ve met or exceeded and a few that are within range. This Vivid Vision is shared with all new employees, prospective employees and partners.
As January 2020 approaches, I have been simultaneously reflecting on the journey and thinking ahead to our company’s future; what AP will look and feel like in 2023.
Serendipitously, in the middle of drafting a new Vivid Vision for our company, I had the opportunity to climb the Grouse Grind, a 1.8 mile hike up Grouse Mountain in Vancouver, BC with 2,800 feet of elevation gain and 2,830 stairs up to the summit. It’s affectionately called “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster” and is a mental and physical exercise in resilience.
As I made the climb up with a friend, I came to appreciate that the Grouse Grind trail is a powerful metaphor for any difficult challenge. Each quarter of the ascent also mirrors aspects of our company’s Vivid Vision 2020 journey.
The First Quarter
When we started up Grouse Mountain, we had a lot of energy and optimism. The reality of what lay ahead had not yet sunk in. As a result, our pace was probably faster than it should have been at the outset. I also drank far too much of my water too early. In retrospect, this reminded me how important it is to pace yourself and conserve energy when faced with a long, challenging experience as you may need to tap into those reserves when the going really gets tough. If your journey is going better than expected once you get past the halfway point, that’s the time to turn up the pace. But if you need reserves and don’t have them, believe me, you’ll feel it.
Similar to many endeavors, the halfway point is a great time for reflection and assessment about how you’re feeling and what your supply situation is looking like. It can also be a time to mentally readjust to get through the remainder of the climb based on the reality of the first half. In our case, we realized that reaching the time goal we’d set for ourselves wouldn’t be possible. So, we set a new one.
In relation to both our climb and AP’s path to reaching our 2020 Vivid Vision, the three-quarters portion of the journey typically comprises the greatest challenges. On Grouse Mountain, the three-quarters section was the steepest part of the climb. Fatigue set in and I became too focused on each step; I lost perspective of the fact that we were 75% of the way to the summit. This same phenomenon often presents itself in one’s business, especially when progress goals are high.
There are numerous studies on the burst of energy that people get in the last leg of a race or upon seeing the finish line. I certainly experienced this on my hike. Even though I was exhausted, as soon as the summit came into view, I began to sprint. The desire to reach the goal overrode how my body felt.
This made me realize that the most dangerous part of a difficult endeavor is the point in between the three-quarter mark and the finish; when you are mentally or physical exhausted, but don’t yet have the top of the summit in sight.
Upon reaching the summit, I made a video for my team to remind them that the finish line for our Vivid Vision was only a few quarters away. This is something my leadership team had been asking me to do as my sights were already on our 2023 Vivid Vision. As someone who spends a lot of time looking ahead, I had failed to understand that my team is still in the three-quarters section and has been feeling the strain of the steepest part of the climb without seeing the summit.
My advice for both a tough climb and a big goal is this:
- Start slower than you think you need to.
- Reassess and adjust halfway to your goal.
- When you reach the three-quarters point, remember to look forward and
- Last, but not least, make sure to keep that finish line in sight.
Quote of The Week
“The best view comes after the hardest climb.”