Where’s the sign? | Communication Lessons from Mt St Helens

by Betty Lochner on September 5, 2012

Rachel finds another snow shoe marker

If you live in the northwest, you know exactly where you were when Mt. St. Helens erupted back in 1980.  I was in Camas, Washington, where my husband had his first teaching job. We heard a very loud BANG and immediately climbed up on the roof to watch the plume. It was amazing.

I have watched the mountain and surrounding area grow back from ash to a beautiful place to hike once again. This week I set out to hike a trail there called Harry’s Ridge.

I haven’t hiked this area before, so my friend Rachel and I spent quite a bit of time GPS-ing and mapping and looking for the right trailhead (there are many to choose from).  The signage wasn’t great.  In fact, in many places the signs were gone or worn down.  There were even snow shoe markers that just look like signs. As we tried to find the right trail, we kept asking each other – Where’s the sign? Shouldn’t there be better signage up here so you know where you are going?

It wasn’t until we decided to “just go for it” that we realized – it really didn’t matter.  Every trail surrounding the mountain was georgeous.  And, if you got on the wrong one, who cares?  We did eventually end up on the trail we wanted, after a few short and beautiful side trips.

But, most important, we had a great hike on a great day with great conversation.  In fact, the trail head sign hunt gave us a lot of inspiration for conversations that we may not have had — about life, goals, and what’s really important.  Isn’t that what it’s all about, anyway?

Harry's Ridge on Spirit Lake, with Mt. Adams

Sometimes, we get so caught up in where we think we should be, that we forget that enjoying the journey is the best part!

Whether it’s looking for signs, finishing a project at work, or working through a problem with a family member, we can learn a lot from the mountain.

 Here are a few of our lessons learned:

1) Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Does what you are choosing to focus on really matter?

2) Be  positive. 

This would not have been a fun journey if we had chosen to complain about what wasn’t going right instead of rejoicing in what was.

3) Keep some perspective.

Remember what’s imporant: enjoy the conversation, the relationship, and the journey.

Today, take time to enjoy your journey!

Betty Lochner is the Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training. She specializes in personal and organizational transformation and is the author of  Dancing with Strangers: Communication skills for transforming your life at work and at home. And, it’s now available on Kindle! Check it out.

Learn more about Betty here.

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