What Do Hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc and Running a Business Have in Common?

2013-10-15On a gloomy, misty morning—our second day on the famous Tour du Mont Blanc—I forced my feet into my still damp hiking shoes, fighting the feeling of disgust.

I’d been so excited about exploring the tucked-away paths of the French, Italian, and Swiss Alps, but the thrill was fading. . .fast.

I tried to keep it alive as I sat in a chair and fantasized about the sunshine enveloping us with its warmth, our lazy pace while gazing at the breathtaking scenery, and all the cozy chalets greeting us with succulent homemade rustic dishes and blazing fireplaces.

But then our guide Bertrand’s yell jolted me back to reality.

I picked up my aching body and walked outside of the little chalet where we had spent the night.  Except for the heavenly dinner the evening before, none of my fantasies were coming true.

We spent the previous day briskly working our way through the thick fog and nearly lost one of our hikers, who took a wrong turn and immediately lost sight of the rest of the group.  By midday, we had reached a valley, where the fog got denser and then turned into a light rain.

I felt as miserable as I looked.

My stylish haircut morphed into a pitiful shapeless lump.  Mud was slowly seeping into my supposedly waterproof shoes.  My back was burning under the weight of my backpack, which included my share of the group’s lunch food supply.

The fact that my sweet share was a brick of Swiss chocolate wasn’t comforting me anymore. . . .just like working from home and being able to set my own schedule stopped being comforting after a few short months.

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There were so many unknowns that at times I felt I was going around in circles.  I was making progress, but so painfully slowly.  My confidence was incredibly shaky.  I was a walking knot of nerves.

But what was most devastating was that my fantasies of the amazing freedom I could enjoy while running my business felt completely out of reach.

The similarities between my hiking experience and the process of running a business kept running through my mind as we trudged through the rest of the day.

It was only after arriving at the chalet, taking a hot shower to wash away the mud and sitting around the table with my fellow hikers that I could laugh at the situation.

As it turns out, everyone was having a hard time.

We were all pushing our limits.

And that was just the beginning.  .  .just the beginning of an adventure where steep icy ascents, abrupt drop-offs, precarious passages, and sheer descents combined with the magnificent beauty of the mountains and the night sky’s star-filled tapestry.

We felt so small and fragile and were, at the same time, grateful for being given a chance to be part of this world.

Over the course of 9 days, we walked 120km, went up 11,000m and down the same amount.

It sounds crazy just thinking about it.

It’s about as insane as what we small business owners put ourselves through in our entrepreneurial journeys.

I’ve reached pretty impressive heights in my business, but along the way, I’ve had many unexpected plunges and vertical climbs that I didn’t think I’d survive.

Many more of these twists and turns—descents and ascents—are on their way.   It’s the nature of being on an entrepreneurial path.

Looking back I find so many parallels between my Tour du Mont Blanc and running a business.

But just like Steve Jobs said:

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.

So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.

You have to trust in something: your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.

Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path.”

So, here is to crazy adventures and paths never traveled before!

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2 comments

  1. Brilliant post, Natasha, really enjoyed reading it. Sometimes we forget that running a business is just everything else in life, it comes with struggle, surprises and satisfaction. Thank you for this gentle reminder. xx

  2. LOVE this post, Natasha!! The whole analogy is SO good.. Thank YOU for sharing it!!

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