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“I Just Climbed That!”

I’m a hiker. Until I hiked Bierstadt Mountain one clear, crisp, beautiful Colorado morning with my good friend, Adrian, over 20 years ago, I was a real go-getter. I was so excited by the mountain air, the adrenaline running through my lungs and body, that I practically ran up every mountain I approached after moving to Colorado. Everything about the way I looked at hiking changed for me with one comment from Adrian that morning, and I began to enjoy it even more than I thought possible…and now I apply it to my life.

We began our hike very early that morning because it’s always good to be on your way back down the mountain before noon as there is usually a bit of weather at the top by early afternoon, and Bierstadt’s peak is at 14,065 feet. HERE’S THE FUNNY: we didn’t know we were doing a “14-er” until we were almost at the top and some other hikers mentioned it casually! What…? Cool! We’re doing a 14-er! Wait. We’re doing a 14-er? Back to my story…

There were three of us hiking together that morning. Adrian and Brett were roommates at the time, Brett and I worked at Janus Funds, and we had realized while working on a project together that we shared a love for hiking the Rocky Mountains. About an hour into the hike, Brett took off like a gazelle (he’ll love that reference) while Adrian and I paced ourselves, which was new to me. Adrian, like a true gentleman, let me go ahead of him as he stayed close behind. At one point, he could feel me wanting to go a little faster. He gently said to me, “Don’t attack the mountain. Enjoy the experience it is giving you.” That’s what I did that morning and on every hike since that day.

We all experience challenges or contrast in our daily lives that appear to be mountains to climb, to go around, maybe to overtake with extreme effort or force, or sometimes we just decide to turn around and go back the way we came…the way that is familiar, good or bad. Here is what I do now, thanks to Adrian. When I see a “mountain” in my world, I feel that initial “uh-oh” (nice version…) and then I immediately get excited. I know that I am going to climb that mountain at a good pace, not attack it, and I’m going to run down the other side of it with jubilation, feeling stronger, happier, and having learned something. ALSO, I KNOW I’m going to look back at that “mountain” and say “I just climbed that!” And nothing can ever take that away from me. GoTerriGo!

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