The Mountain Top

Occasionally I pontificate with my teams. I do what some of the girls have labelled as “J Lectures” and in an effort to make a point sometimes it comes out like a parable. On this day, maybe I was feeling a little poetic. I would love to share with you too, please tell me what you think in the comments.

This was the day that she would set out to reach the top of the mountain. She was sure the view from there would be spectacular. Others had told her that merely being at the summit was life altering. Though she knew the journey would be a challenge, she was sure it would be worth it.

But the early morning was cold and she was so very tired. Her bed was warm and she knew that if she just closed her eyes and lay still, that she would fall back to sleep. The mountain would be there a different day. Today the bed seemed like a better choice. She did not close her eyes. She pried herself out of bed and prepared for the journey. She had to remind herself that the mountain view would be worth it.

She started her hike up the path and walked for a while in the coolness that came with early morning. As she rounded a bend she came upon a quaint little café and had no idea that such a place existed. The smell of coffee and baked goods filled the air, and she was tempted to stop and sample the aromatic brew. The hike was steep, and her feet were tired, a warm cup and maybe a sweet would be so nice. But to her, the mountain top beckoned. She passed by the tempting little café and continued up the path.

As she walked the road, she caught up to a group of several people walking the same direction. “Hello” she let out as she approached the group, “I am on my way to the mountain top. Is that where you are going?” “No”, replied the man closest to her. “We started out for the top, but the road seemed too much for us, we decided to see if we could find a good enough view by hiking to the treeline. You could come with us, you look like you would fit in with our group.” “Thank you,” she answered, “I am determined, I will go on to the top, but it was nice walking with you for a while.”

Hours passed and the hot sun changed to clouds. She saw the storm rolling in but the weather this time of year was always unpredictable. The rain set in so fast she barely had time to find protection under a tree. She waited; and thought that blue sky would have to break at some point. She was soaked to the bone. She knew the path would be even more treacherous when it was wet. But when the storm broke, she again returned to the road. She was still determined.

Now she could see the mountain top. It looked so close, but her feet hurt. She was tired, hot, hungry, and wet, and though it seemed close, closer than ever before, she knew she was still hours away. She began to think about how much easier it would be to just turn around and walk down the path. Maybe this mountain top was not all it’s reputation made it out to be. She had been atop many smaller hills, it was probably just like that, only taller. Was it worth the work? Would it really change her life?

This is what we get to experience every day. We have athletes with goals and dreams and that is their mountain top. They have heard that there is glory in seeing the world from this vantage point, they have heard that the work to get there is never easy, but they make the decision to start the climb.

The first obstacle they encounter is the overcoming of complacency. I have written before about how hard it often is to step out of comfort to chase after uncertainty. Armed with hope, and desire; with good preparation, and the guidance of a sound coaching philosophy, we help our athletes take that first step. We pride ourselves at Gymfinity for introducing a child to their potential, and then teaching them to surpass it. We can try to motivate our kids to stay on course, but the motivation must come from within. If we can make the way more attractive by placing smaller goals or way-points, then success and effort becomes immediately reinforced. The path continues if we have guided them to feel that they are moving in the right direction.

They will be often be tempted by distraction, like a café hidden in the forest. But when we can explain that their goals, the goals THEY set for themselves, are where their fulfilling journey should end. They often forge ahead toward their ultimate finish. A coach, in our case, or a parent in other cases, can help lead them to a place where they can feel successful. And feeling that success again, can overcome many tempting distractions if we have framed the picture right.

Many times an athlete on the journey of success can be sidetracked. We have seen them be distracted by social groups calling to divert from their path. We have seen people doing comparisons and deciding the grass is greener on another course. Some choose short term satisfaction over long term development. There are any number of diversions, and sometimes the goal has to just be readjusted or fine tuned. This is not always a negative. In fact, as long as there is forward progress and the ultimate goal is still visible, there is often much to be learned by a side-step here or there.

There will be difficulty along the way, much like an occasional rainstorm. Sometimes we have setbacks, injuries, family relocation, adversity or worse. No one said the road would be easy, but if the dream is worth attaining, then a difficult journey will only raise the value of the dream. We encourage them to work through setbacks and keep their focus on what is in front of them. The feeling of return after a setback is one of the most fulfilling feelings a person can experience if we allow it to be. We, as leaders, must stay in front of them as they tread the difficult parts. Reminding them that they will be stronger for fighting through.

Then there is doubt and fear. They will wonder if they can really do it. If it is really what they want. Add in more temptation, more difficulty, and a desire to have things just be easy, and the mountain top becomes merely a shadow in the fog. Our job is to point out the mountain. Map it if you will.  As coaches or parents we can help lead them to the goal and allow them to experience their dreams under their power, with our guidance.

It has never been a secret to achieve everything you ever wanted; you just don’t give in to temptation, the promise of an easy path, or doubt. You work through the difficult parts and eventually you find that it was the journey that gave the goal it’s very meaning. It was the road that made the mountain top real.

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