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Lateral to the Top

Point to Ponder:

Do you appreciate your lateral moving moments or are you trying to fast forward and push past them?

Last week I watched an inspiring television show called Running Wild with Bear Grylls. If you are unfamiliar, Bear is a British adventurer known for his TV series called Man vs Wild as well as other wilderness survival shows. As it relates to Running Wild with Bear Grylls, Bear takes celebrities and athletes out and into the wilderness where he relocates them in uncharted territory. All the while, Bear leads, guides and coaches the celebrities to not only survive, but most importantly, to experience success and thrive in the wild. I love this show for many reasons, as it oozes wisdom and inspiration, but it also shows the human qualities of the larger-than-life, seemingly in-control and by society’s standards, very successful celebrities.

Once in the wilderness and stripped of their daily comforts, the athletes and celebrities are just like every other person—extremely uncomfortable, raw, vulnerable and scared out-of-their minds--maybe even more than most because they are so far removed from their daily reality. Then, as their vulnerabilities are exposed and they realize they can’t make it without Bear, they let their guard down, trust him, tell their story and share their challenging life experiences.

As I watched last week, the celebrity/super-star athlete was Deion Sanders. Deion Sanders played for the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers where he won a Super Bowl with both teams. He also played major league baseball—only one of two athletes to ever play in both the NFL and MLB. As you can imagine, athletically there’s not much Deion can’t do, but to have success in the wild for 48 hours required him to give up all control, listen to and trust Bear.

With 44 hours remaining in their 48 hour journey, in order to arrive at their final destination they had to scale a steep mountain. A helicopter waited at the top and it would take Deion back to his modern-day comforts. As he climbed, he mentioned how frustrating it was because he could see his destination, which was straight up and so close, however rather than take the seemingly short route and lead him up (where the climb was much more dangerous and uncertain) Bear led Deion across the mountain, laterally, and then up.

As Deion struggled across the mountain with mental fatigue, he had an epiphany about the mountain, a.k.a., life. He said, “To climb on the side of the mountain is horrifying. You can’t look down, or else it’s over. You can’t even look up. You just have to look straight ahead and keep moving laterally. I have a problem with moving laterally alongside the mountain, because it doesn’t seem like we are getting to our destination. I never thought about this before, but in life you have to move laterally to get ahead.”

Whoa! That's incredible wisdom. Who doesn’t feel like in life, which at times can be disorienting, disappointing and discouraging...that so much of our energy is being used just to move laterally—sideways— and it feels like we aren’t getting any closer to where we want to be or think we should be. In addition, looking down (or backwards) gets us nowhere but if we just keep moving our destination is likely right around the corner. Our ongoing opportunity is to tirelessly stay the course, remain hopeful, course correct when necessary, embrace the uncertain, shaky and sometimes mundane lateral steps and never stop moving sideways and forward (never backward). Most importantly, give thanks and find peace, joy and contentment in the lateral moving moments, as that’s where so most of our wisdom, grit and fruit lies ..and to be honest, that’s where most of life is lived.

At the end of their journey, when Deion reached his final destination with Bear, they reviewed their experience and continued wisdom poured out, such as:

  • Bear: “There are so many things in life that we are uncomfortable with that we still have to do. It doesn’t have to be pretty, we just have to do it."

  • Bear: “Overcoming raw fear and adversity is called courage.”

  • Bear: “Every time you overcome one obstacle, there’s another one waiting.”

  • Bear: “Find your peace and center yourself.”

  • Bear: “Show me your leap!”

  • Bear: “Learn how to handle fear and use it to overcome obstacles.”

  • Bear: “What I love about going into the wild with someone is that barriers are often broken down and light can only shine through broken vessels.”

  • Deion: “I never thought I would’ve done that, but it was just mind over matter”

  • Deion: "I’m proud I overcame some fears. They’re still there, but I’m working on them”

With one more month remaining in 2017, this is the perfect opportunity to revisit and acknowledge all of your successful lateral and forward moving steps, along with the growth, lessons and wisdom you gained from each one. Not one step is wasted or without purpose. Rather, each step holds a valuable piece of your story-- a great story that when shared with others will provide them strength that will help guide them to take their necessary forward and lateral steps.


Action Item:

Revisit, acknowledge and be grateful for all of your successful lateral and forward moving steps, along with the growth, lessons and wisdom you gained with each one.



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