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Hiking To Your Full Potential

June 9, 2020

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Give 110%”?

It’s not possible, of course.

I watched a group of athletes working out on a track field. The athletes were running the forty yard dash. After one competitor finished, the coach asked him if he’d given his very best.

Yes, I ran absolutely as fast as I could. That was my best time.

I will give you this $100 cash right now, if you run even a hundredth of a second faster.

And they did it. They were able to squeeze slightly more performance out of their bodies. They gave a slightly higher percentage.

What’s the most effective you’ve ever been? If you are an athlete, maybe you’ve at one point given 95%? 96%?

I have a voice in my head that is a perfect person. He is there to tell me that I can always do a little better. He knows how to give that 100%. But, being a figment, that’s easy for him.

When I manage to do something well, he tells me how to get better. When I do something poorly, he’s there to point out my mistakes. And when I’m working on something he reminds me of the things I could be doing. Maybe it’s better or more important than the thing I’m working on? That idiot in my head has plenty of other ideas.

He’s not mean. He’s just brutally efficient.

I discovered something about myself today.

I enjoy hikes. I don’t enjoy hiking. It’s hard on my knees. I have old man knees. I take lots of ibuprofen on my hikes. I grew up camping and hiking in the Pacific Northwest. As an adult, I was a scout leader. I enjoyed my time with the boys.

Later, I had my own sons (and daughters.) We went camping often. Three of my sons became Eagle Scouts and the other two lacked only a an Eagle project.

Just last month, during the height of the social distancing, two of my sons and I did the “Baldy Hike.) It’s a 8 mile hike with thousands of feet in elevation change. It’s the hardest hike we ever did with the scouts.

And I forgot my ibuprofen. My knees hated it. But, other than that, I had a wonderful time. And today I figured out why.

Remember that guy in my head? The one telling me all the other things I could be doing.

He hates hiking. Well, maybe not hate it, but he’s silent during the hikes. Because when you are hiking, even camping, there is nothing else to do. Literally, you are doing the only thing possible.

In the middle of a miles long hike, you are doing exactly what needs to be done. There is no doubt. No question. You could not be doing anything better, more important.

It’s a very comforting feeling, knowing that you are doing everything possible. And you can come closest to achieving 100% performance. Not by setting records for speed or endurance, but simply by doing the only thing you can possibly do.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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(c) 2020 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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