"Sometimes you have to get lost to find yourself."
Hayhurst, J. (1996). The right mountain: Lessons from Everest on the real meaning of success. J. Wiley.
THE MEAT (The Main Idea)
"Sometimes you have to get lost to find yourself." This quote crossed my path over a decade ago in Jim Hayhurst's book, "The Right Mountain," during my educational administration course. Back then, it felt like one of those inspiring posts we often share on social media—sounds good but not yet profoundly or personally meaningful.
Fast forward to today, and the narrative has evolved. A decade spent in educational administration has exposed moments of profound disorientation. Recently, I dove headfirst into the meaning of this quote's truth when I decided to launch my own business. Transitioning from the classroom to educational leadership can indeed feel like being spun around on a mountainside. However, venturing into entrepreneurship is more akin to climbing shifting sand dunes, where each step upward reshapes the ground beneath you.
So let's see what other inspiration we can pull from Hayhurst.
THE CHEESE (Added Depth)
Emily Pennington embarked on a bold mission to explore every U.S. national park within a single year. In one of her blog posts ("62 PARKS TRAVELER"), she set her sights on ascending what was believed to be the highest sand dune in North America. Emily's vivid descriptions in her blog make it abundantly clear: this was no easy feat.
But here's the twist—when Emily finally reached the summit and looked out at the horizon, she made a startling discovery. There, in the distance, stood the unmistakable silhouette of the true highest sand dune in North America. It hit her like a revelation; she had, in fact, scaled the wrong sand dune. Talk about feeling lost and now defeated.
Jim Hayhurst's book, "The Right Mountain," and Emily Pennington's blog post about scaling the wrong sand dune both vividly illustrate this sense of disorientation. They remind us that life can often take us on unexpected detours, leaving us weary and stunned. But let's not miss the incredible beauty in the journey. After countless trials and tribulations, when you finally reach the summit, the view is nothing short of glorious.
It doesn't matter whether it was a mountain you intended to climb or a dune you mistakenly ascended; the sense of accomplishment washes over you. It's about the satisfaction of the effort you put in and what you achieved.
Arthur C. Brooks, a prominent figure in the academic world, serves as a Professor of Management Practice at the Harvard Business School. Brooks teaches courses on leadership and happiness, offering valuable insights into the pursuit of well-being. Brooks and Ferriss were discussing satisfaction in a podcast and he said, "Satisfaction is achieving something with struggle... satisfaction per se is doing something that takes effort and expending the effort." Furthermore, he says, "The satisfaction really comes from the pain." How contradictory but true.
So, although it really, really sucks to have to climb the mountain or traverse the wrong sand dune, and it's all really painful, in the end, it can be incredibly satisfying knowing (1) you did it and (2) you survived. It's a lesson that extends to our journeys. Life often throws us off course, but how we reflect on the journey matters most.
Let's remember that being lost can be a temporary discomfort, but the path eventually leads to the summit. And sometimes, the most remarkable views come from the places we never intended to visit.
THE OLIVES (A Surprising Element)
Okay. now let me really mess with your thinking and this quote.
What if we think of being lost as exploration and reinvention?
As we ponder the quote, "Sometimes you have to get lost to find yourself," we can interpret it as a call to embrace moments of confusion and uncertainty, as I have in The Cheese. It certainly is a nice sentiment that speaks to the transformative power of being temporarily adrift while figuring out life.
But what if we consider a different angle? What if getting lost is purposeful? What if it's an intentional response to feeling comfortable? Or a continuous state of exploration and reinvention?
Imagine if, instead of seeking a fixed destination, we embraced the idea of being in a perpetual state of discovery. Each time we think we've found ourselves, we embrace lives present to us as a new terrain to navigate. It would be like setting off on a never-ending expedition where the only constant is change.
In this light, "getting lost" becomes a deliberate choice to venture into the unknown, to willingly shed our preconceived notions and comfortable routines. It's an invitation to welcome the unexpected, to redefine who we are in the ever-evolving landscape of our lives.
So, as we savor the olives of this contemplation, let's entertain the idea that getting lost isn't a temporary detour but a lifelong journey—one that offers not just self-discovery but an ongoing exploration of our ever-unfolding selves.