Have you ever regretted starting a project or taking on a role because it wasn’t what you expected? I recently did. Take a walk with me as I tell the story of the adventure I call, Spiderman Hike.

I love challenging myself. I get an endorphin rush from pushing my body and mind to the edge.

For example, a couple of decades ago, I quit smoking cold turkey because of a serendipitous encounter with a customer while doing morning laps at the YMCA.

In October of last year, I challenged myself to attend one yoga class a day, 30 days in a row. I crushed that goal by extending the streak to 60 days. That led to going to four to five yoga classes each week for 18 months.

Back in February, I gave up sweets for 76 continuous days. (I need to rinse and repeat this one!)

In April, I completed my latest challenge of gradually increasing my daily squats from 50 to 250 over a span of 30 days.

Steve Borek at Carpenter Falls, Niles, NY

Steve Borek at Carpenter Falls, Niles, NY

I enjoyed the journey of each of these challenges. In fact, I’d do them all again. No regrets. The benefits I’ve achieved emotionally, mentally, and physically are priceless.

Then along came the Spidey Hike. Ugh!

I belong to a Meetup group called the Syracuse Area Outdoor Adventurer Club. I noticed a group event posted for a hike at Carpenter Falls, just south of Skaneateles in beautiful Central NY. Since I had never been to this area before I thought, why not explore a new destination.

I’m in pretty good shape. I usually hike places like Highland Forest where I trek the 9 mile trail. It’s a beautiful hike with numerous picturesque elevation changes that takes four hours to complete. I’ve hiked this trail dozens of times. Great workout. Though, no matter how many times I’ve done Highland, nothing was going to prepare me for Spidey Hike at Carpenter Falls.

The Carpenter Falls hike started like any other. We leisurely maneuvered the meandering dirt trails, enjoyed a wide assortment of foliage, beautiful scenery, listened to the birds chirping, etc. I was excited about the day because the surroundings were new.

To get to the waterfalls, we trekked down a steep hill filled with protruding rocks and tree roots. My first thought was, “this is going to be a beAtch to get back up.” Nevertheless, we finally made it to the bottom and found our way to the foot of the falls.

It was a beautiful peaceful spot. Our group rested for about 15 minutes. I enjoyed watching the foamy water splashing over and on to the creek and rocks below, took a few photos, ate a banana then an apple, and chugged down a bottle of spring water.

It was time to leave and make our way back up to the main trail. A few of us decided to be adventurous and take a different route back. A shorter, yet very difficult, precipitous trail. How steep? I’d say a 125% grade, 50 degree angle.

As I stood there, looking straight up this daunting ascent, watching the two other women and man claw their way to the top, I said to myself “How the hell am I going to do this?”

For a moment, I thought of Plan B. Join the other conservative hikers in the group and evacuate the same way I came in. Take the route that will be easier on my aging boomer body. After giving it a quick thought, I decided to take the challenge head on.

I threw on my back pack, pulled up my jeans, tightened my belt,  took a deep breath, and started the slow arduous scale up the hill.

During the climb, I had to stop and rest at least a half dozen times because I was huffing and puffing like a runner who had just completed a 100M dash. My heart felt like it was jumping out of my shirt akin to a 1970’s cartoon character who just fell head over heels for his new sweetheart.

More than once, I slipped and fell to my knees because the unstable ground composed of grainy moist soil and leaves was struggling to support my 6’5″ 260 lb. frame.

At one point I panicked. My eyes frantically scanned the vertical terrain looking for roots, rocks, tree trunks, etc. anything I could grapple to help me maneuver a foot here, a foot there, making my way deliberately closer to the top.

I’m telling you, without question, this was the most physically challenging 20 minutes of my life. That’s how long it took us to make it to the horizontal elevation.

Once I reached the main trail, I said to everyone:

“If I knew how hard this was going to be, I would have never started in the first place.”

Take a moment and think of all the ginormous challenges you’ve taken on and slayed in your life. If you knew the struggles you’d have to endure. The sweat equity you’d have to expend. The pain you’d have to experience. I’d venture to guess, like me, you’d have second thoughts on whether or not to take on your own “Spidey Hike.”

You might not have:

  • Started your company
  • Married your spouse
  • Taken on a leadership role
  • Moved cross country for your dream job

So, what’s the truth here?

Take on projects, situations, and roles that light you up!

How do you know what lights your fire? Pay attention to your values.

Values is the conscience that drives your endgame.

When your vision is aligned with your values, nothing will get in the way of success. When you encounter obstacles, you won’t think twice on how you’ll move around, over, under, or through them. You’ll effortlessly negotiate the speed bumps because your values will be the fuel that drives you across the finish line.

Comment below. What’s the lesson you learned from a challenge?


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