Earlier I wrote in a blog post about a backpacking trip I did a few years ago that started in Mineral King is the Southern Sierra. Here’s part two of the story.
After climbing up to Franklin Lakes, a tough 3000-foot climb with forty pounds on my back, I spent the first night of the trip in my mummy bag under the stars and slept without waking. I’d had the flu the week before, so was more exhausted than usual. Normally I’d spend the night watching satellites cross the sky and listen for the howling of coyotes and the rustling of small animals. But, not this trip. I was wiped out. [side note: I don’t sleep in a tent when I backpack. I have a deal with a friend. I’ll carry half of her tent if I am allowed to share it if it rains. That way we both reduce our weight; I get to sleep outside the way I like; and, I have somewhere to retreat if it rains, which it never has.]
The next morning was cold, but I woke feeling much better. We ate a breakfast of hot oatmeal and tea, our hands cupped around our bowls for warmth. Everyone ate quickly so that we could get an early start on our 1200 foot climb up and over Franklin pass and then down another knee-pounding 2000 feet into the remote Kern country where we planned to peak bag and do a little technical climbing over the next seven days. But, alas that was not to be. A couple of our companions weren’t feeling great when we hit the valley floor. We had to change our plans. Instead, we base camped for a few days by a beautiful little lake and then took slow rambles to other lakes where we swam, took naps, and some of us did a little bit of peak bagging, but nothing like what we had planned.
When I first heard that we couldn’t do our original route, I was frustrated. Angry even. I had a plan. I had prepared. I was in great shape (except for that annoying flu the week before—more on that in another post). I wanted to climb. I wanted to push myself. I wanted to feel a bit of fear and then push through. That lasted about five minutes. Then I shifted to the new plan. The chance to spend more one-on-one time with friends. The chance to write. The chance to relax. To do moonlit hikes and search for constellations in the night skies. Things that I couldn’t do if I was collapsing each night into my bag, exhausted.
If I had held onto that original plan, my trip would have been miserable. Anger and resentment would have destroyed what was a lovely time with friends filled with laughter and a lot of relaxing.
That ability to shift perspective and change the plan is critical in work just as it is in the rest of one’s life. For me, that means marketing for early stage technology companies. When working on a product or company launch, more often than not, there’s a big change in the middle of the process. And, often, the change is a shift in product direction. That shift means messaging and personas need to change, impacting a hundred different moving pieces. How do you manage a hard left or right in the middle of the process? First, and for many the hardest part, don’t let your attachment to the old plan get in the way. Let it go. Don’t get overwhelmed by the magnitude of the change. Break the change down into pieces that you and your team can handle and set new timelines, if necessary. Be realistic. Then move forward with the same enthusiasm you had for the original plan.