Over 20 years ago, I made one of my most rewarding and difficult hikes of my life – an active volcano. The (literal) pain came during the last push to the peak. The final several hundred yards was a sharp incline, covered in volcanic ash. Imagine hiking the steepest part of a mountain – in sand. I was literally on hands and knees slowly inching to the top of this volcano.
I was rewarded when reaching the top, seeing into the cone of the volcano and experiencing it’s power.
That moment symbolizes any apex or high point in life. The beauty of reaching the top always comes with hard and painful work.
I thought about my climb reflecting on my week with a group of 30 men from around the creative world. I spent 3 intense days (March 7-9) with musicians, designers, photographers, videographers, creative directors, writers and entrepreneurs of all sorts at Apex 2017.
The brainchild of Jeff Woods, Apex is an opportunity for men in the creative world to be real with one another as men, fathers, husbands and entrepreneurs. I was privileged to speak, but more importantly receive from others – presenters and attendees.
Staying in the climb theme, here are my 3 top take-aways:
1. Value the climb.
There are two parts to this thought. First, the pain found in the climb shapes us. Talking with these talented men (ranging from 20-60 years old), I was reminded of my struggles over the past decade and the accompanying pain.
I’m the man I am today because of the struggle and pain I walked through yesterday. Your pain shapes you. While I don’t endorse sadism, I do suggest embracing the moments you are in pain. Know it is making you into a better man or woman.
Second, my story is invaluable. It’s not just for me, but it’s also for people I come into contact with. A solo apex moment is lonely, boring and tedious. We do life better when we do it together.
Last summer, I took my youngest son on his first “hard” hike in the mountains of Colorado. At times he thought the steep path was too much. Together, we slowly climbed to the top. It wasn’t about me. It was about him. We did it together.
The pain and people associated with my climb allows me to appreciate the top. I need them, and so do you.
Who are you climbing with? Will you learn to value the pain?
2. Find an impossible dream.
Creative director and Instagram stud, Gareth Pon, shared this nugget:
Everyone needs to believe one ridiculous dream is possible. It opens up every other dream to be possible.
I am a safe dreamer by nature. Small dreams cut myself off from a larger reality. There is more than I believe is possible.
I’ll never see more if I don’t dream bigger.
Here are two of my current ridiculous dreams:
- Commit one continuous year to travel the world.
- Own a Tesla S.
What is your ridiculous dream?
3. Order to chaos.
Jeff Woods shared this thought:
When we bring order to chaos, beauty is released.
Chaos. Order. Beauty.
Reaching apex requires finding order amidst chaos. The exciting part? Everywhere chaos exists is an opportunity for beauty. You and I, we have a lot of potential beauty in our lives.
The most beautiful part of apexing that volcano years ago wasn’t the view or even the experience. I found beauty in overcoming pain – bringing order to the chaos in my mind. Chaos like: I’m strong enough. The climb is too hard. I’m out of energy.
One event brought order to my mind.
I saw our guide – a man who looked to be in his 70’s or 80’s – ahead of me, at the top…smoking a cigarette. It brought clarity. Order came to my mind with these thoughts – I am strong enough. The climb isn’t too hard. I do have enough energy.
What chaos needs to be brought to order in your life, and what beauty is waiting to be released?
This was my 3rd Apex event. I’m a better man for being a part of this group. The event and more importantly the men involved are changing my life.
If you are a man who is a creative or entrepreneur, I encourage you attend Apex 2018. The waiting list is open.