RIDGES: A Thought Experiment.
I’ve been thinking about mountains.
It started as I’ve been playing around with terminology and acronyms to lay the foundation for The Way Thru. The word RIDGES popped out at me with a metaphor that immediately shifted my perspective.
People talk a lot about mountains as a metaphor for obstacles. Some people even imagine that their entire life’s journey is one treacherous mountain they have to climb to reach the pinnacle of success. We imagine ourselves as constantly starting at the foot of the mountain, trying to climb to the top.
My theory: If we shift that perspective about 90 degrees, life will feel a bit less overwhelming. And a lot easier to navigate. Instead of picturing yourself at the bottom of a jagged, insurmountable mountain struggling to get to the top, what if you’re already standing on the mountain and life is about traversing the RIDGES?
At first, the word RIDGES felt awkward to me. I was tempted to add a “B” for boundaries - definitely a concept I want to explore. But I tossed the idea out to a few friends and one mentioned that it sounded awesome. His eyes lit up because: “Bridges are easy! They’re already built and all you have to do is walk over them to get from one place to another. I definitely wish life was like that.”
So....that gets a stone cold NOPE from me. Not my style. I’m not here to perpetuate the lie that if you just do three magical steps life will be a breeze. If that were true, we’d have all figured it out by now and being human would be excruciatingly boring. But it’s not. The human experience is diverse, dynamic, complex, and gloriously painful.
But I do think that shifting your perspective can go a long way to make the experience more pleasurable, more enjoyable, and possibly more fulfilling.
If you look at life’s obstacles/journeys as ridges rather than mountains, three things may change.
Give yourself credit for what you’ve already accomplished.
Even if you’re starting something new, you’re not new to life. You’re a whole adult person, with life experience, work experience, education, accomplishments, etc. Far from a beginner. The foot of the mountain is for babies and fools. You, my dear, are neither. Start each new phase of your journey with this clarity and you’ll be present to the fact that you actually DO have the tools to succeed.
Realize there is no pinnacle.
This year I’ve been reading a lot of memoirs. Even when you hear from people who are rich and wildly successful, they rarely imagine themselves as having reached the top of the mountain. The “pinnacle of success” does not exist. It’s like chasing the horizon, or worse, the end of a rainbow. Think of Oprah - she’s a bazillionaire - did she reach some career high and go “FINALLY, I did it. Success accomplished. I can go home now!” Nope. She mastered television, now she’s out here selling frozen pizzas and soup. Climbing up the mountain isn’t the point - you’re already on the mountain, you just need to keep going.
Once that perspective shifts, then you can focus less on the struggling and striving. Accept where you are and know that, as long as you keep putting one foot in front of the other, you’ll be somewhere different soon. And...now that you don’t see life as an uphill battle, you can...
Plan well and pace yourself.
The thing about climbing a mountain is that you typically can’t see your destination. It always feels elusive. When you’re traveling the ridges, you know where you’re going. You might not be able to see the final edge, but you can see several steps in front of you. You have a clearer vantage point from which to determine your next move.
Being clear about where you’re going has an enormous impact on whether or not you reach that goal. That’s because you can plan better. This could mean taking a job that isn’t perfect, but you know that specific aspects of it will lead you to your ultimate career goal. Or maybe you want to write a book and travel the world sharing your message. If you are clear on what you want to change and how you want to feel in your work, you can create a plan for yourself so that the work doesn’t burn you out. Once you can see where you’re going more clearly, pace yourself. What’s for you, is yours. The vision that you have for your life will not leave you behind as long as you’re walking towards it.
And when you’re traveling the RIDGES, you can walk more fully in this truth with the confidence that you’re on the right path.
Y’all, this is about 20% of what’s on my mind about this concept. But I don’t like the feeling of speaking into thin air, so I want to hear what you think. Does this concept land for you? What experience in your life have you treated like mountain climbing? How would it feel to shift that perspective? Would it change anything about the impact of the experience for you?
As I’ve been thinking on this for the past few weeks, I’ve been presented with real life situations to test my commitment to this approach. I’ll be sharing about that on Instagram to hopefully bring this out of the realm of the abstract, and into a place of utility for daily life.
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