Reaching the Summit with Baby Steps
By Kenrick Cleveland
Persuasion Fundamentals, Using Stories
Lately I’ve been really exploring the power of stories in both my own learning and in my teaching. We all have a story with many story lines, interwoven throughout our lifetimes. This has been an incredible journey bringing up memories I thought were long gone. My story today has to do with setting little markers for yourself. When you have a goal, parsing off the route to this goal, helps make the steps manageable.
When I was a kid, my father and I went hiking on the Pacific Crest National Trail. We had big backpacks, food for two weeks, a topographical map (though we didn’t need it, but dad brought it for teaching purposes, I think), canteens, sleeping bags, a tent, and most importantly for me, blister pads. My dad carried with him a folding chair so that when we stopped at night, he’d have a comfortable place to sit. He dropped off our car quite some distance away and had somebody drive us to the trailhead and drop us off. We drove for half a day to be able to then hike this far over two weeks.
We started off at the top of a summit. As I stared off into the distance, I couldn’t believe how long it was going to take us to get back to our car. I remember thinking to myself, there’s no way we’re ever going to reach it. No human has ever walked so much. (We hadn’t gotten to the Lewis and Clark part of school by that point.)
The first day, every step hurt, I was miserable and couldn’t experience the beauty. After that we got into a rhythm. We would make little markers for ourselves, when I make it up that hill or to that tree, I get a sip of water.
Before I knew it, I was standing at the summit of one of the major hills that I had seen from our trailhead starting point. As I looked back at all the ground we had covered and I thought, I can do this. I looked at the map and thought, hey, we’re more than half way there. I can most definitely do this.
Another thing I strongly remember from this very long hike with my dad was that he entertained and probably distracted me with the storylines and a little bit of dialogue from the James Bond movies that had come out over the past few years, the mid to late-60s, of which we were both fans. So really, when I think back, I’m reliving multiple stories within the story of this special time with my dad and the wonderful life experience he gave me for those many miles.
These kinds of realizations started to sink in. I continue to use this process to look at how I can see things that seem insurmountable as merely stepping stones instead of a brick walls, and I realized, at that moment, the brick wall had become a summit.
Until Next Time,
Kenrick E. Cleveland