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Issue #23: Wisdom in the Wild

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There I was, the closest you could get to the middle of absolutely nowhere New Zealand.

 

We’d walked. And walked.

 

We’d clambered across huge rocks and small loose rocks.

 

We’d climbed hundreds of metres of tough terrain. Sometimes close to vertical.

 

We were pretty rooted, really.

 

This wasn’t a hike from point A to point B.

 

Yet, we kept going.

 

In fact, having just ascended about 350m into and up a deep gully, and having covered a few kilometres to get to that point, in an instant I lept up to keep going.

 

I eagerly sprint-scrambled up a four-minute climb to ascend further up the gully.

 

When I got there, I was bent over sucking in the oxygen.

 

So, where the hell was I and what was I doing?

 

This was a trip I returned from earlier this week.

 

I spent a few days deep in the Southern Alps of the South Island of New Zealand.

 

Me and a few of the guys from my Zeus Inner Circle Coaching choppered into a remote valley bordering New Zealand’s highest mountain, Mt Cook.

 

 

The intention was hunting. Possibly Red Deer, most likely Tahr – a Himalayan Mountain Goat introduced to NZ over a century ago. They live HIGH in the mountains and walk around on ridges and cliff faces. High.

 

Across three days we covered a lot of ground. We did a LOT of looking through binoculars. And we did more walking. More climbing. More exploring.

 

And I took more than a few lessons away that I think you’ll benefit from despite living whatever your life is – middle of nowhere or not.

 

Some of these you’ve likely heard before. Yet, they seem to be lessons we often don’t fully learn. Let’s crush that today.

 

Lesson #1. Let’s start with a cliché…

 

Life is about the journey, not about the destination.

 

While we were aiming to find, stalk, and shoot (and process) wild animals (whose numbers need to be kept under control for the sake of the landscape and other animals), that was never a destination.

 

The moment we go into that trip needing to shoot an animal is the moment we set ourselves up for disappointment. We change the entire experience.

 

Being attached to an outcome means I miss the journey. I become so focused on some possible destination, I am not present. I’m not in the here and now.

 

This was extremely evident both during this adventure and after.

 

Across the three days, we saw dozens of animals. Mostly extremely high and out of range.

 

Yet we didn’t shoot one. Didn’t even line one up to get a shot. They were inaccessible despite the distance we covered and the heights we climbed to.

 

Shooting one, being able to butcher it, and process the meat would have been nice. Very nice. But being attached to that happening would’ve seen us have a terrible time and left us highly disappointed.

 

Letting go of that destination meant we could have a phenomenal three days in remarkably beautiful terrain.

 

 

Striving, sure. A clear intention, yes. But not attached to an expectation and outcome we can’t control.

 

When we are connected to and committed to the journey, what ultimately shifts, where the real reward is, is in who we become.

 

Who each of us was able to grow into was down to the journey. Not whether we shot an animal.

 

If we focus on who we become along the journey, the growth and progress are sitting waiting for us to grab it.

 

For you:

 

Where in your life do you tend to be attached to an outcome – frozen in place – that is not in your control? Stuck on expectations that seem to keep leading to disappointment?

 

Lesson #2.

 

The power in a meaningful reward.

 

While we weren’t attached to a destination, we did have a meaningful reason to be out there. A few.

 

First, we were there to hunt. But that didn’t mean ‘must shoot and kill an animal’.

 

It meant being out in nature, walking, looking, stalking, going where the animals were, and putting ourselves in the position for that to possibly happen.

 

The possibility of getting an animal was enough motivation to push our bodies to discomfort.

 

Second, we were there to have a great time. To enjoy each other’s company and to experience what the area had to offer. Simply being out there was epic.

 

This is where we have to be able to separate destination expectations and motivation.

 

We could simultaneously be connected to a meaningful reward – the experience itself plus the possibility of a kill – and not attached to it happening.

 

Being present means being open to possibility. Being attached to an outcome means being closed off to possibility because we narrow our focus so much we often lose focus.

 

Let’s revisit the top of this story.

 

We had walked and walked up this gully. Around bends, seeing what was in front of us and choosing to continue up and around the next.

 

Then this stunning cascade of waterfalls came into view. The further we walked up this creek bed, the clearer it became.

 

We were looking for animals. We weren’t attached to getting one. However, the drive to get one was what motivated us to continue climbing.

 

We had climbed most of the way to the waterfalls at the top of the gully when we sat down for a rest.  Looking up at the waterfalls sparking in the sunshine at the top I said “There’s a good chance that bottom waterfall has a pool at the base of it. That would be an epic spot for a cold plunge.”

 

*Look closely – the waterfall is in the sunup behind us

 

*Look closely - the waterfall is in the sunup behind us
 

At that, two of the guys chose to keep walking up to see. The possibility of an animal up there and all of a sudden a new motivator – an epic and extremely remote pool – sent them up.

 

Meanwhile, I stayed at the rest point with guy #4, Pete – who, on the trip, had already exercised more than his entire life purely because of these meaningful drivers.

 

When the other two got to the spot where they could see the bottom of that waterfall and signalled that there was a pool there, I was faced with a tough decision.

 

It was further than it looked; I needed my binoculars just to see their signal. I was pretty stuffed. It had been a long three days to that point.

 

Then I asked myself “Have I come this whole way to NOT have that experience? Is the pull of that pool enough to get me up there?”

 

The answers were easy; no and yes.

 

Walking all that way I had to experience that pool.

 

So I scrambled up with purpose.

 

And the reward was immense. A small pool at the bottom of three cascading waterfalls in a spot that quite possibly no one has ever had a cold plunge in.

 

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention. This high up in the Southern Alps, this water was COLD. Maximum 5 degrees (Celsius). Knock the wind right out of you cold.

 

It was so worth it.

 

The importance of having meaningful goals, a north star with enough pull that we want to head in that direction and do the work to get there – this is what so much of life is about.

 

The juice must be worth the squeeze.

 

For you:

 

What are you aiming your life towards? What meaningful reward is pulling you forward?

 

Lesson #3.

 

The importance of being in environments that challenge you, bring your shit to the surface and invite you to overcome edges.

 

If we weren’t out there, we wouldn’t have confronted some edges. And boy did we.

 

On this trip, we spent a lot of time sitting and looking up at mountains and high hills to spot animals.

 

I was able to start gauging distances.

 

Then we’d move. And move.

 

All of a sudden we’d look back to where we’d been sitting. And it would look MILES away.

 

It was remarkable how much ground we could cover by simply being in the environment and committed to moving forward. Step by step.

 

Many times on those walks and climbs my head would talk me in circles. In and out of it. Ready to stop, to suggest a different path. Each time I hit an edge the environment – both the physical landscape and the other men – invited me simply by their presence, to push that very edge.

 

And I know the same was true for each of the guys. None more than Pete, the man who just by being there had pushed his comfort zone to a new stratosphere.

 

The sheer volume of walking was something Pete had never even come close to approaching.

 

The edges he confronted and blew past in that environment because he chose to be in that environment. With us.

I witnessed immense growth in him across those few days. Edges and lessons galore.

 

Who is around us and where we choose to be will dictate who we become.

 

For you:

 

What does your environment look like? Who is in it? Does it invite you into growth and support you through it? Does it ask more of you? Invite you to your edges so you can become who you are capable of becoming

 

 

Lesson #4.

 

How easy it is to do something difficult when you’ve just done something else difficult already.

 

It was so much easier to face another climb to possibly get an animal in range having walked kilometres, sometimes across treacherous rocks, to get to that point.

 

If someone had come to the hut first thing in the morning and said “You need to go to this point here for the chance of an animal” – the motivation to do so would have been low simply by looking at the distance.

 

When I think again of the final ascent to the waterfall pool. Tell me at the bottom of the valley it’s up there and there is an immensely strong chance I say “Nup. Not doing it”.

 

But put the difficult steps behind me and one more difficult thing becomes so much easier to do.

 

Not easy. Easier.

 

This has so much carryover for life; momentum matters.

 

As my good friend JuVan Langford says “Many men mistake movement for momentum”.

 

Momentum means movement in a meaningful direction, no matter how small.

 

That momentum makes the difficult next step easier.

 

Spinning our wheels, convincing ourselves we are moving when we’re just looking busy and treadmilling life – the difficult step in the direction of a meaningful reward is infinitely harder.

 

For you:

 

Where are you in meaningful momentum and where are you in mindless movement?

What difficult things (no matter how small) can you do consistently to help you take more meaningful and difficult steps moving forward?

 

As you can tell, when I go on trips like this I am present. I pay attention. I reflect.

 

Often the environment helps facilitate that. This one did. And then some.

 

Life is full of lessons. They needn’t come in such extreme environments and situations. But if we pay attention, we will see and use them.

 

If you’re a man needing something purposeful in your life to pull you forward into growth, into what is possible for you, then I invite you to use this as a call to action, an invitation to take one step towards that.

 

See my ELA Coaching or self-led courses here.

 

And if you like the idea of an experience like what I had above – these will be coming later in 2024 – initially in NZ – for reforming Nice Guys who own or lead businesses that want to break free of all the shit that still impacts your lives and the business you run

 

 

They will be a combination of hunting/outdoor experiences, to bring you to your edges and drastically overcome the shit that holds you back in life and business. The doorway to becoming UNFUCKWITHABLE.

 

If this resonates with you (even if you’re new to outdoor experiences – like Pete was), and you’d like to be among the first to know when we announce them, contact me today.