Nov 082010
 

by Linda-Ann Stewart

There’s a saying, “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” Well, Jeff and I had a hiking experience recently that certainly reinforced that statement. And what I learned from it applies to other areas of life.

It started out innocently enough. An acquaintance, who does a lot of hiking in the area, wanted to get a group together to go hiking. This weekend, he wanted to take us on a trail I’ve never been on. It’s in a deep canyon with a creek running through it and I’d heard it could be a bit challenging.

West Clear Creek Wilderness Area

I thought, “Great! We can go with someone who’s been there many times before and knows the best ways to go.” Jeff and I were the only ones to sign up, and Jeff brought his camera bag along.

On the hike, our guide took off like dogs were nipping at his heels. No time to enjoy the views or really take photographs. I lagged quite a ways behind he and Jeff simply because I would stop periodically to look around.

Jeff wading in the creek

The trail crosses the creek several times. The first crossing, Jeff and I hopped on rocks successfully without incident or getting wet. The second one, I barely made it without dunking, and Jeff elected to wade across the creek.

On the third crossing, my luck ran out. I fell into the creek, and got my backpack and myself soaked. Fortunately, I’d put everything in zip top bags and everything was dry. I had some dry socks, put them on, and hiked on with wet jeans.

Red rocks by creek

At this point, it was after noon, and Jeff and I indicated that we should start back. We did, but not on the trail. Jeff and I had no idea where it was. Our guide went off the trail and then couldn’t find it.

We spent the next hour and a half following our guide bushwhacking through the brush and walking on river rocks. Not the best of footing, especially when you’re tired. It would be easy to twist an ankle or fall and break some bone on that terrain. We clambered up hills and scooted down hills.

Jeff taking my photo as I'm taking his

On our fourth creek crossing, I chose to wade, rather than hop across on rocks. This time, I slipped as I stepped into the water. I fell on my side, scratching and bruising my arm on branches. But miraculously, I survived relatively unharmed.

You know how it is when you “Hit the wall?” I hit mine when the guide had us rock climbing several feet above the water, on a ledge not an inch wide. I can’t remember when I’ve been so scared or so ready to be done with a hike.

Linda-Ann - behind her and to the left is the ledge they traversed

As Jeff jumped three feet down onto a two-foot wide ledge, he lost his balance and slid¬†¬† into the water. As he was trying to climb out, his camera bag fell into the water. Water is not good for camera equipment. Fortunately, it looks like it’s all okay. Again, a miracle.

We finally got back to the cars just before 5pm (the hike was supposed to be done by 3pm). And our guide had a flat tire. After he got his spare on, we finally left the parking lot at almost 6pm.

Some angel was watching over us and kept us from major catastrophe. There were so many times when disaster could have (and should have) happened.

I learned several valuable lessons that are relevant to both personal and professional areas of life. Whether you’re planning to partner with someone for a project, write a paper, a business or in a relationship, keep these ideas in mind.

1. Get to know the person you’re planning to collaborate with.

Jeff and I had just talked with our guide a couple of times and didn’t know him well. When you’re going to work with someone, especially in a situation that could affect your well-being, finances, reputation or life, find out if they’re trustworthy, will do what they say, and what their values are.

2. Make sure you have the same expectations, reasons, motivations, agendas, or goals.

Or that they’re at least complimentary. From things our guide said during our trek, his motivation for hiking was to challenge himself, to push his limits. Ours was to enjoy nature and the scenery. These two reasons for hiking are not compatible.

If you’re partnering for a business, the other person could want it for a tax write-off, while you want to make a lucrative income. On a project or paper, the other person could want it for glory or to promote their career at your expense. In a relationship, make sure that what you find important is important to the other person, and that you have similar values.

3. Set boundaries and be clear about them.

Establish at the beginning what you will and won’t do, and will or won’t accept from the other person. Jeff and I should have stated that we wanted to head back before that third crossing and the bushwhacking. And when we saw the rock ledge, we should have said, “Uh-uh” at the beginning.

If you’re opening a business, how much time and money do you plan to put into it, and how much do you expect the other person to contribute. The same applies to a project or paper, or any other professional collaboration. And it’s especially true in personal relationships.

4. Protect your assets.

I thought ahead to what could happen, and put everything I carried in zip top bags. As a result, even with two dunkings, everything stayed dry.

In any personal or professional relationship, you don’t know what unexpected event could happen. So take preventative action, talk to professionals to see how your assets need to be separated from the other person’s, and plan for the unexpected.

If something bad doesn’t happen, great. But if it does, you’ve done what you could to minimize the damage.

Challenging experiences make you stronger, and give you wisdom so you can (hopefully) make better decisions in the future. But when you learn from someone else’s experiences, you can become wiser by proxy. As far as I’m concerned, learning from others’ life-events is the best way to go.

Copyright 2010 Linda Ann Stewart
All Rights Reserved

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