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The Tree Blocking the Path

Today I had the synergistic combination of an early morning career coaching session followed by a mountain bike ride. In the coaching session, I shared a model that I have further developed from Stephen Covey’s Circles of Influence that I often introduce when a teammate, colleague, client, or even a whole team or organization is blocked. It opened up some some new possibilities in the session, but gave inspiration and energy to both of us.

Not long after we finished, I hit the trail on my mountain bike, which is an activity that has gotten me through the past year of so many changes.

Of (temporarily) leaving my home, friends, and life in Sweden, transitioning my team to a new organization, and recreating a new professional life from a lifetime of being an employee or consultant, to a true freelance solopreneur. Throughout all those ups and downs, I always had my bike and the trail to go to.

A place of comfort, of solace, but also of challenges and pushing myself. At times to be better, for better times, to be QOM (Queen of the Mountain) of a segment, or at other times to just get out of the house and bed. To brave the heat and humidity, bugs, mud puddles, or loblolly pollen (thankfully, I have never encountered all on the same ride!), instead of hiding under the duvet, curled up in a ball and wondering what the hell I am doing here (physically or metaphorically).

Today, as I was riding, playing back our early morning conversation and also thinking of my Wednesday ride (where a tree had fallen and was blocking the trail), I came up with a metaphor for where my client, I (absolutely!), previous contacts, and so many of us find ourselves….

On the trail, with a tree blocking our path.

When we think about our ride (or life), we hope for (or even assume) a trail like my picture in the header. We know it won’t be an easy paved road, or we wouldn’t be here on the trail. We know it will be some uphills, some adrenalin-filling downhills and jumps, some bumps, some rocks and roots we go over, and some we steer around. Some days are sunny, and others cloudy or even rainy, but we know that is out of our control, except for choosing whether we are out or not.

But what happens when our trail is blocked?

Wednesday this week about halfway through a favourite trail at Harbison, I came upon a huge fallen tree, completely blocking the trail. We had recently had a recent tropical storm that hit the Carolinas with high wind and rain, and our loblolly pines with their shallow root structure often are blown down.

I ground to a screeching, gravel-and-dirt-throwing halt so I didn’t crash, as I considered the tree.

A first passing thought, “it’s Wednesday, the storm was over the weekend. Why in the world has the forest service not cleaned up the trail?” (Blame)

A next passing thought, “oh hell, I have to turn back, and I won’t get all my segments and new times (which were actually pretty good that day).” (Return to What is Safe or Known)

Then, “I’m tired, it’s hot, I just want to sit on the tree and whine and moan.” (A little more Blame and a healthy dose of Feeling Sorry for Myself)

I take a couple of hits on the water bottle and a minute to catch my breath, then start thinking…

“How high and long is the tree anyway? What are the parameters? What can I do, and not do?” (Calming Myself and Starting to See Possibilities)

After some consideration and recognising the forest service wasn’t going to find me any time soon and remove my obstacle, I didn’t accept back-tracking as an option, and sitting still just attracted more bugs, I found a place just off the trail where I could lift my bike over and finish my ride (with three new personal records and three third place times).

It seems a bit simplistic on the trail, because of course I needed to find a way around the tree.

But if we think about the tree blocking the trail as a metaphor for our lives, for a situation in our jobs, at home, with our kids, or our parents, is there a tree blocking our trail?

What are you doing about it?

How are you reacting?

Do you need a little help to get out of it?

If you need a little inspiration or a model to get there, join my Webinar September 23rd: Webinar: Removing The Tree Blocking Our Path (Expanding Our Circle of Influence When We Feel Blocked), where I will share my model to help you work with the tree in your path.

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