5 entrepreneurial learning I've aquired while conquering the Half Dome hike
What hiking up Half Dome in California has thought me as an entrepreneur
While travelling the US I've had the great opportunity to hike up Half Dome, one of the most famous sights of Yosemite National Park in California. And hiking up a bad-ass mountain tip as an entrepreneur lets you apply the weirdest situations to business life. Read how hiking, a free lottery ticket and co-founders come together in the following blog post.
Depending on what kind of entrepreneur you are, you might consider taking some days off to recover and reconnect with nature. And mama nature can teach you a lot about your business. Yosemite National Park is a great example in the center of California for all entrepreneurs of the Silicon Valley, who want to take some time off. It offers camping facilities, day-long hikes or shorter trips, waterfalls and scenery views around every damn corner.
One great hike is up the peak of Half Dome. The rock formation with the distinct shape is 1,444 m above valley ground. And the last 120 m are the hardest, with slopes of nearly 40%, where cable strings and a latter help you pull yourself up the rock formation. Once you arrive, you are able to fully let yourself fall and enjoy the the view, atmosphere and have some surprising discoveries which will make you think of your business from another perspective. Here's what can be applied to start-up practice.
1. Don't gear up too much or carry too much burden.
Originally my hiking partner and me planned to hike up two waterfalls. A distance of 4 miles / 6.4 km. No more. Which meant: pack some snacks and water for the next few hours, enjoy the view and return. But plans changed and we've decided to go further. But neither have I had the interest and knowledge in hiking, nor the plan to do so that day. Owning hiking shoes as an urban Millennial was just as likely as me leaving my phone at home. So there we were, mentally ready to conquer that mountain, but feeling physically under-geared compared to all other hikers: professional foot wear, hiking sticks and breathable sports wear. Being surrounded by geared up people as fuck, this didn't change our motivation to make things happen. Some bottled water was the minimum necessity we carried with us.
There are plenty of people who depend on the most professional equipment, - even in business. They own the best softwares, buy the newest market insights or drink too much expensive Starbucks coffee. But being well-equipped does not secure your success. Many entrepreneurs bootstrap the hell out of their business. No need for fancy stuff. Get going with the basics and watch those inclines. Climb up the latter and ...
2. Appreciate the small improvements
The hike up Half Dome is one of a kind. Inclines change continuously, the nature transitions from waterfalls to dessert like climate and the last bit is the trickiest. And especially around noon, when the sun is high up and makes you sweat out all the water you've just drank, the hike can seem endless. Appreciate the small improvements. How has the nature changed within the last half an hour and what kind of challenges may I face now?
As an entrepreneur, I love having my To Do lists on multiple levels: for the month, the week and the day. What keeps me going every day is ticking those boxes. Every time, I've been able to finish a task, I tick the box. And every night, I watch my list and how it developed. Appreciate how far you've come and how these small tasks bring your further to where you want to be in a day / a week / a month / a year.
3. Step by step is the right mantra
The hike starts with two incredible waterfalls, but then turn out to be less of an Instagram worthy hike for a while. The climate changes drastically and dunes and dessert-like landscapes are less of an eye candy. Your feet get heavier and heavier, the more you think of the hot sand burning under your soles. And the landscape does not change. With the heavy grained dunes, inclines start to make your way up even more difficult. All you see is the same damn landscape and you feel small. Very small. You're a tiny fraction of what exists around you and every step feels like one backwards...
In your entrepreneurial daily routines, one may not notice the changes you make. Emails over emails, phone call after phone call. And no sight ahead to have enough time to do the actual operations. But in fact, each action counts and brings you more towards your goal.
With tired feet and a tired mind, each step should consciously be made. Use your full power and center it in simply walking. Common, walking is not a hard thing and learned early on. Switch of your mind and make step, after step, after step, after step. You will be rewarded for your focus: An incredible vibe and view of half dome.
4. Collaborate, don't compete
Depending on your business, your environment may be more or less competitive. There may be businesses that do exactly what you do. Or businesses that do exactly what you do, just faster, better, cheaper? But no matter what your business environment looks like, - stay open for collaboration. And having joint forces will bring you even further.
With the hike, the last 2 hours were the most challenging. And people who were on their way back knew. When passing by, they cheered us up and even gave us some applause. Others left their gloves for the final latter up the rock formation.
And just before we got there we realized that the last bit requires a ticket. As a tourist attraction, the most difficult and intense part is limited to a specific number of people per day for security reasons. And with deciding spontaneously about this, we had no idea. But then, just before we left, our karma helped us to reach our goal. An elderly couple gave up and didn't need their tickets but in fact someone to watch their kiddos climb the last but. We've hesitated a bit, as we knew those tickets are with a 4 digit number. Or shall they be left unused? We've decided to collaborate: take the tickets and watch their kids, which turns out to be a great deal for both parties.
We're here together, specifically when it comes to fighting for sustainability. Lets make the world great again together!
5. Pick the right partner
Once you're up that beautiful place, adrenalin and Endorphine rushes into your body. You are full of great emotions, but the journey has not always been like that. You've suffered. Your feet may hurt, you may have a sun burn or are tired from exhaustion. And in those times, you need to mentally push each other to go through it, as the view is very much worth it.
Pick the right partner for your ventures. You need to be able to go through both, enjoyment as well as downturns. Some relate the entrepreneurial to a rollercoaster ride and it's just as crazy as that. But also as incredibly enriching as this hike. Pick wisely. The person on your side should be able to cheer you up when you're down, bring you down to earth when you start to float around or share your feelings.
Lastly, some snap shots from our hike. Have you had a similar experience? That nature brought you closer to your business, made you reflect, made you realize things? Then tell me in the comments below!