More recently, I have discovered the fun and joy of hiking alone in the mountains. I never thought I would dare, let alone enjoy it so much 🙂 without telling anyone, I planned my first rather ambitious solo hike – about 12-14 km, at least 1000 m of ascent, about 4 hours, not the easiest route. I said to myself “if I succeed, I will be very proud of myself. But, just in case, I’d better not tell anyone about my plan in advance, because if I don’t succeed, I’ll feel embarrassed. If I don’t say anything, I’ll be covered”. 

Once the journey started, the negotiations with myself quickly gained momentum. Soon, the thought that it was okay if I didn’t reach my destination, but if I did even ⅔ of it, that would be a lot, and maybe that would be enough – after all, it’s all about the effort and the good intentions, right? Hiking like this requires a bit of physical effort, for a few hours just climbing up and up steep trails, the brain starts to look for protection mechanisms to save energy, because survival is the most important thing! But I turn on the other side – the side that wants to continue, that realises that there is still physical strength left, that there are even more spectacular views above and that it is worth continuing. The two inner selves find a common ground for a while and we all continue together 🙂 a little later, I manage to go down the wrong path a couple of times, because the arrow marking the route is down right at the intersection of the paths, and it’s just a matter of guessing which direction is the right one. Although I lose a few hundred metres, it doesn’t dampen my spirits and I continue on. There are cows grazing all around, their bells tinkling, romantic! And here it is, about half an hour later, and I come to the last signpost – only 15 minutes to the top, I can almost see it! Suddenly, there are new circumstances: there is no more conventional road, just a barely marked and barely visible path on a rather steep, uneven slope. I take the first few metres and realise – damn, it’s hard. I “lose” my breath, my heart rate goes beyond the maximum limits and suddenly the inner voice comes back: “why bother, you’ve almost reached the goal, it’s enough what you’ve done, if it’s too hard, you have to stop. The peak is just around the corner, but you can’t see it, what if it’s further away than you think?”

 It was at that moment that I started to think about what I was doing all this for. My first thought was that if I didn’t reach my destination, I would be embarrassed in front of others, but after staying with my stream of thoughts for a while longer and listening to myself, I realised  that it was all about me first. I remembered and relived the emotions of the past, when every time I completed a seemingly impossible hike, it felt so good, the sweet feeling of pride when you once again push yourself beyond your limits. And then it didn’t matter anymore that it was hard, I just wanted to experience that moment again. And I did it, a few minutes later I was at the final point of my journey. A breathtaking panorama, and all the hassle was gone 🙂

Why am I telling you about this particular experience and how does it relate to coaching? The answer is very simple – motivation and where it comes from, whether it is internal or external, from or towards something. The more extrinsic the motivation is, when we do something for others, when we pursue goals that are imposed on us, the more likely it is to fade quickly. Only intrinsic motivation and moving towards the desired goal, rather than running away from what we don’t want, helps us to stay on top in the last few metres. 

With best wishes to reach to the top,
Your thinking partner online