One of the best pieces of advice that I received just before we started down the Bright Angel Trail taking us to the bottom of the Grand Canyon was from Jeremy who was a veteran rim-to-rim hiker. He whispered in my ear, “Dave, don’t forget to turn around every once in a while and look behind you.” Not only was this an insightful nugget of truth for the canyon, it was a special concept for leadership and life in general.
Once I remembered to turn around the first time, I turned around a lot. Some of the most incredible views came from looking at where I had just hiked. Not only was I impressed by the rugged rock cliffs and the spectacular expanse of the chasm into which we were descending, but the light and the shadows cast an entirely different picture of the terrain that we had just hiked. The trees looked different, the color of the rocks seemed to be transformed, and looking up into the cloudless, blue sky captured an inspiring context in which to walk. Some of the best pictures I took were the views from behind.
There was something encouraging and motivational about stopping and looking over my shoulder. Realizing the distance that I had traveled, the challenge that I had conquered, and the trail that I had experienced provided strength for the miles ahead. A sense of accomplishment can instill endurance and perseverance.
I have found this same practice of turning around to be profitable in my preparation for the Appalachian Trail. I enjoy getting to the bottom of a hill and turning around to see how far I’ve descended. The hill looks even higher from the bottom. The same is true of a nice climb – reaching the summit offers the reward of looking over the entire valley, seeing so much more than you could observe from the bottom floor.
Although we cannot and should not live in the past, it is important for an individual, a team and the entire organization to pause and look back at the progress and improvements made over the year(s). It is good to review and learn from the mistakes made… to reflect on the good and bad decisions that resulted in times of growth and challenge. We can gain inspiration and motivation when we look back and see God’s faithfulness to us. His blessings are poured out … sometimes because of my endurance but most often His blessing comes in spite of my effort.
Next time you’re hiking or the next time you feel discouraged, turn around and look at how far you’ve come.
COUNTDOWN – 152 days!!