Personal Development

Enjoy The Mountain Top But Don’t Forget The Lessons In The Valley

AZ atop Table Mountain Cape Town 300 x 333After delivering a series of leadership development seminars in South Africa, I took some time to climb to the top of Table Mountain outside the city of Cape Town. The scenery was magnificent. It should be. After all, Table Mountain is considered to be one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World.

I have to admit that it was a high to climb that high. No pun intended. It felt great to accomplish that goal.

But I’ve learned that my most important lessons in life have come when I’ve had to walk through the valley … figuratively speaking. When I’ve had a struggle with a family member or coworker, when my health was challenged, when I wasn’t sure how I would pay my bills, or when I was clueless as to how I would attract a certain desired client, my first inclination was to worry. I would spin my emotional wheels in stress … which did me no good whatsoever.

So I’ve learned to take a new approach that is bringing me much better results. When I’m in a valley and going through tough times, I now take these 5 steps.

  1. Re-affirm myself. Remind myself that I have always gotten through tough times in the past and I can get through tough times now.
  2. Dig for causes. Instead of simply fretting about my difficulties, ask myself if there is anything I haven’t been doing that I should be doing, and ask myself if there is anything I did that I shouldn’t be doing?
  3. Take responsibility. I may not like the answers I discover in step 2, but I must focus on what I can do about it rather than blame anyone or anything else for my difficulty.
  4. Look for the lesson. In every failure and in every challenge, I’ve found there is a life-changing and life-enhancing lesson, if I will just take the time to look for it.
  5. Apply the lesson. All too often I learn something and then forget what I learn. So write down the lessons you learned in the valley. Record them in a journal and review them once in a while. Otherwise you’ll have to learn the same lesson over again, the hard way.