For my 70th birthday last week, I did a backpacking trip with two friends into a wilderness area where the trout seldom see humans. It was gorgeous. It turned out to be quite an Adventure!
Along the way I could see several profound lessons for entrepreneurs like you. Here are the highlights:
- Expect the route to be twice as tough as you planned. This 2,500 foot mountain decent into a remote canyon was a lot more rugged than we anticipated. We were able to make it down and back, but it was arduous and a real trial. "We made it!" was our final remark at the top of the mountain.
- Have adequate reserves. This Fall season lacked rain and the creeks along the way were dry. We planned our carried water but it was gone by the time we neared our first campsite along the river. That was not enough reserve to allow for any emergencies along the long, hot trail over 10 hours of sweating.
- Expect to lose the trail at times. We got lost three times going in. We marked the trail better for getting out. The lose of time and energy was significant. It stretched our patience and endurance with each other.
- Expect to find the trail again. We never lost hope of re-finding the lost trail. Time after time we stopped, dropped packs, spread out and found the missing trail (it is a seldom used path in rugged brush and mountain terrain).
- Use multiple skills to make your way. Our map reading skills were solid, our compass worked, and the tiny GPS helped until batteries ran out. We did not rely on just one tool.
- Go with people you trust. We knew each other. We had been on the trails before. We had experiences that together gave us confidence we could do this rugged journey.
- Go light. One of our guys carried too much gear, too many duplicates and luxuries. His extra caution cost his legs dearly. He slowed us down. We had to help him, he could not carry the load he signed up for. He learned a tough lesson and won't do it a second time.
- Do not hesitate to ask for help when you need it in emergencies. Our youngest and most experienced trekker insisted on having us two slower guys leave before him. Two hours later we were far ahead when he got hit hard by bad food poisoning. His resulting return to camp, vomiting with diarrhea left us over-nighting on the top of the mountain in storm winds, wondering what happened to him. The next morning we called for help from Search & Rescue. They found him four hours later, on the trail, and then assisted his climb out (he is a Marine) and he arrived safely later that day.
- Stick to basic rules of safety. We violated a cardinal backpacking rule: Stick together. Separating cost us dearly in worry and endangered one of us.
- Have your escape plan prepared. We had discussed what each of us would do along the way in case of emergency. This situation was one of several we were ready for. We followed our agreed plan and it resulted in the best of outcomes.
- Treat every outing as an Adventure! That means each trek will have four elements: Unknowns, Risks, Treasures, and Fun. We had all of those on this trip. It was a true Adventure into one of God's most beautiful areas of creation. It left us wiser and ready for more, with our friendships intact and our bodies humbled. It was a great way to celebrate a birthday!
BOTTOM LINE: Lessons from challenging events such as wilderness backpacking (for fishing, hunting, skiing, etc.) offer lessons for real entrepreneurs. Making your outings Adventures and learning from them transform your time and effort into advancement of your character, skills and wisdom. When you can apply that to a new enterprise, you'll be far ahead of your competition who will complain about your unfair advantage.
I wish you The Best on your Adventure!