Lessons Learned

We are all on a journey each and every day. These journeys provide each of us with many life lessons, if we take the time to look for them.


This was proven true for me once again recently when my two sons and I conquered an extreme backpacking trek at Philmont Scout Ranch. Over the course of 11 days on the trail we summited 13 peaks ranging from 7,500 feet in elevation all the way up to 12,441 feet and many in between.


As we forged along our path with 65lb backpacks we covered 125 miles of trails and climbed over 20,000 feet in elevation. This was by far the hardest physical and mental challenge I have ever volunteered myself for, as a matter of fact, it was spiritual for me. It changed me forever…in a good way.


Our successful completion of this journey, I attribute to keeping the right perspective along the way and making it a point to look for the life lessons that surrounded us. What we learned over those two weeks are lessons that determine much of our success in all aspects of our lives.


Here is what we focused on and learned;


  • The Motto of the BSA is to “Be Prepared”. Knowing that each of us had the right gear, tools, resources, training/skillsets and that we were all physically prepared for the adventure was a prerequisite for each team member.


  • Our individual success was determined each and every day by the quality of our crew/team. The most tiring, exhausting and stressful days were always a result of the overall cohesiveness and teamwork of our crew. Just as the most enjoyable days were always a result of a harmonious team all committed to the success of the person to their left and the person to their right.


  • Having an unwavering belief in ourselves, our crew and our ultimate successful completion of the challenge was vital to our overall well-being. At no point in time did anyone question “if” we were going to reach our desired destination. We all knew we were going to achieve our goal and were willing to take on whatever discomfort we had to along the journey.


  • Always being aware of our surrounding to ensure the entire team made it to the finish line together. In the back country you not only have to be aware of the trail conditions but all the other risks that could detour us from our destination. The weather, the dangers associated with each trail we chose, as well as the outside influences we had no idea if we would encounter along of way. Rattlesnakes, bears, unforeseen injuries and overall health conditions all could bring a quick halt to our journey if we were not aware and conscience of.


  • Doing what each of us could do and not just what was required. In the beginning we attempted to divide up the responsibilities and the tasks among the team. What we learned almost immediately was that it didn’t matter “whose job it was” all that mattered was that everyone worked together to complete all the tasks and that everyone did what they could, when they could. We trusted each other and some days you did more than what was expected and on other days another crew member did more.


  • When you are covering such extreme terrain it is very important that you stay in-tune with the ground that is right in front of you. Don’t focus too far down the track. The ground right beneath your feet and your immediate surrounding require your attention.


  • As we summited each peak it became very clear to all of us that the biggest rewards always follow some of the hardest challenges. It continually reminded me of a saying from one of my business mentors: “Nobody ever said it would be easy but everyone always agrees it was worth it!” This was true as we took in the views from high above the valleys.


  • When you lay down each night prior to falling asleep, reflect back on all the great experiences from your day and close your eyes with great anticipation and excitement of what tomorrow will hold.


As I reflect back on this adventure I can clearly identify numerous examples of each of these principles being executed along our path, however an even more exhilarating form of excitement comes over me as I recognize that these same principles are also what has allowed me to enjoy the countless other blessings I have experienced in both my personal and professional life.


Take a moment and reflect back on your last journey. What principles did you rely on for your successful completion? I bet yours are transferrable throughout all aspects of your life as well.

~Michael Goater


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