So, you know how we are supposed to practice Listening Skills? Focus on the other person. Provide validation. Correctly seek clarification. Well, sometimes, I become distracted. My mind wanders. For example, a few months ago, a friend and I were discussing the 7 Wonders of the World. We talked about the Great Wall of China. We spoke about Colosseum in Rome. As she proceeded to the Taj Mahal in India, I remained in Italy. I thought about delicious, tender pillow pastas; cool, creamy Nutella gelato and thin crusted, double cheese pizza. Yum! My culinary revere was interrupted by my friend. I noticed her smiling face as she asked, “What do you think? Good idea?”
This was my opportunity to ask for details or clarification because I had no idea what she had just proposed. But did I ask? Nope. My response was…. “Yeah, good idea”, hoping to learn details of her thoughts during the remainder of the conversation. She then received a phone call and left abruptly. Oh, well, I could return to my Italian gourmet daydreams!
While it is important to practice Listening Skills, distractions do occur. We can normally pick up the topic as the conversation continues. If action is required of us, we will usually learn the expectation soon enough.
And a couple of weeks later, I learned.
My same friend contacted me to share the details of the reservation she made for OUR three-day trek through Peruvian villages to Machu Pichu.
See, I am not a hiker. Not an outdoorsy kinda gal by any stretch. Nor would anyone ever mistake me for an athlete either. But, strolling through Peruvian villages…, how bad could that be?
Fast forward several weeks.
Now, I am walking through a rainforest with the same friend and a Peruvian guide named Carlos, a.k.a. El Diablo, who appeared to be a direct descendant from the Incans. He was short, muscular and moved like a mountain goat. I peered in the direction we were heading. There were no villages in sight. Not a soul nearby. However, there was the largest mountain I had ever laid eyes on in our way. We were going to have to go around it.
The guide smiled as we trekked. I asked which way we were heading. He pointed in the direction of the Giant Mountain. I chuckled. El Diablo was funny. I responded, “I am NOT climbing THAT mountain!” He laughed at me, then effortlessly leapt over an 8-foot boulder.
The trek became challenging quickly. The mountain peaked at 14,100 feet; was steep and covered in tall slick grass. The thin air was depleted of oxygen. I labored to breathe. My heart beat rapidly to push oxygen into my lungs and straining muscles. The trek worsened with each step. There was an inverse relationship between the altitude and my attitude. The higher I ascended, the lower my thoughts sank.
“This is hard.” “I am not a hiker.” “What am I doing here?” “I should stop and go back.”
Soon these were the only thoughts traversing my brain. “This sucks.”
At some point, I realized the sabotage occurring in my head. I attempted to slow my breathing and calm my brain. The negative thoughts were NOT helping me. I had to change the refrain.
If I was going to succeed, ascend any higher, go any farther, I knew had to alter my thinking. However, I was sucking wind, literally and figuratively. I felt puny and needed help.
Suddenly, there was a chorus of voices in my head. No, I was not hallucinating from altitude sickness, for these were words of support. The voices were from friends, family and colleagues. People, who during previous challenging times had cheered and inspired me. They offered encouragement and love.
“Keep going.” “You’ve got this.” “One step at a time; one in front of the other.” “You are doing this!”
The voices continued until I finally said, out loud, “Forget this! Before today, I might not have been a hiker. But after the last 90 minutes, you bet your boots, I AM NOW!” From somewhere above me, I heard El Diablo chuckle.
I trudged onward and upward; scrambling over boulders, occasionally on my hands and knees.
The view from the top was spectacular. Reaching the goal energized me. I would complete the day’s 12-mile trek!
During my ascent, finding encouragement within myself was elusive, I knew positive thoughts were my only choice. The negative thoughts did not serve me; they depleted me. However, once I replaced the negative ones, I physically felt stronger, powerful and hopeful.
I did not run up the mountain, but I didn’t need to run. I just needed to keep taking small steps, one at a time, in the direction of my goal until I reached the top.
I drew upon previous encouragements I had received; other successful experiences to help me attain this goal. This adventure will be added to my treasure chest of accomplishments; to be used as a reminder when needed!
So, keeping taking those steps towards your goal. You’ve got this!
Now, I really must work on my Listening Skills!!