A Path Through the Woods

Appalachian Trail

All journeys start somewhere. And there are many analogies to life in the things we do on a daily basis. When starting out on a hike, I am usually pumped. I can’t wait to get to the trailhead, I can’t wait to step out of the Jeep and begin.

At the beginning of everything there is anticipation. Sometimes, we already have an idea of what to expect, but within our expectations are many opportunities to be surprised, to be delighted and to discover something unexpected. I know I am in for a physical challenge when I start out on a hike. For those who have never been on a hike, there is a difference between a hike and a walk in the woods or along the Greenbelt’s developed trailway. On a hike the terrain promises to be a bit challenging to very rugged, and all necessities have to be transported upon one’s back. On a short hike, a small day pack with snacks and supplies and some emergency provisions is called for. On a longer hike or a backpacking adventure one may even need shelter and camping gear to prepare meals along with food and water. Walk for a while with 20 to 40 extra pounds on your back. Climb a mountain with said extra weight and the experience becomes more visceral.

It seems inevitable too, that somewhere past the beginning and a long way from the goal I hit a place where I struggle. That little voice inside my head starts yapping…”You work 12 hour shifts, why couldn’t you just rest today? Why are you out here in the woods climbing a mountain? What are you doing here?” Sometimes, it is a terrific struggle to get past the little part of me that doesn’t want to be where we are.

I am afraid business in August has been a bit like that point in my hikes. We have begun. We have a lot going on, the goal is so far out of sight, all we have is an image of it we created. Our expectations are high and we have ridden them this far. We have invested a lot of time, money and energy into what we are doing. And it has been a very slow month. That little voice has started yapping and sounds so familiar…”You work 12 hour shifts, what do you think you are doing? Why are you investing all this time, energy and money into this? What are you doing here?”

Our society has softened us up. We are so used to instant gratification. Anything involving long term planning and dedication and sheer stubborn will power that refuses to quit is almost painful. Our expectations meet reality and wham! Down we go for the count.

Like that trail in the woods, once you get so far along, it is just as easy to keep going as to turn around. If I turn around the distance may be less but I know from experience that the sense of accomplishment and joy at reaching the goal will far outweigh any benefit from quitting early.

This is not only about a good idea becoming a great thing, it is about navigating the ups and downs. Appalachian Trail through hikers have an idiom, pointless ups and downs, to describe stretches of trail where the terrain and the trail goes up and down with elevation gains and descents testing the will and the knees of earnest hikers.

I have a feeling this business venture is going to be like this. With surges and pauses along the way testing the will and determination of a couple of earnest businesswomen. There will be good days when confidence is high and the energy is good and there will be times like the last couple of weeks, when the energy is a bit off and confidence lags. The key is to keep going. If the goal is to make The Original Neanderthal LLC a success, we can’t quit just when the terrain becomes a bit more challenging.

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