Trail Time: Resisting the Urge to Overcomplicate.


Culture Fuel From the Trail series

This series of posts is inspired by our recent 6-day section hike of the Appalachian Trail, which you can read more about here. Each of these posts offers an insight from our experience on the trail that applies to life and leadership. Enjoy!

“Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.”
— Henry David Thoreau

We rolled into the parking lot at Amicalola Falls State Park at 1:30pm sharp, just barely in time for our meeting with the shuttle guy. Wes was a kind, retired gentleman who has never set foot on the Appalachian Trail himself but has spent the last 20 years shuttling hikers around the southern terminus of the AT. Our 1:30 meeting was the last time we needed a clock for six days!

That first day, Kellie and I coined the term "trail time" as a way of helping ween ourselves away from our anxious addiction (okay, my anxious addiction) to the clock and relax into a whole new pace of life. Without thinking, one of us would wonder aloud what time it was or reach for the cell phone to check--and the other would playfully remind that it was "trail time." For the next week, our days consisted of a very small collection of times: daytime, nighttime, hiking time, camptime, and of course mealtime! The simplicity was powerfully refreshing...and so began our detox from the tyranny of time for those days.

Upon returning to civilization I had to reluctantly reconnect with the clock, but with this new point of reference it has been my intent to bring the best of the trail back into normal life...which means resisting the urge to overcomplicate. I invite you to join me in these three intentions:

  1. Keep it simple. To accomplish much of anything, there is usually a simple way and a complex way. Simple is good. I don't necessarily have to make a spreadsheet to inventory the kitchen pantry (yes, this is something I have actually done in the past!); a shopping list will do. Carry that thought into your office today.
  2. Keep it focused. As my friend Rich Schlentz likes to say, multitasking is doing a lot of things poorly at the same time. Indeed. And technically, no human being ever thinks about more than one thing at a time; what we really mean when we talk about multitasking is how fast we can switch back and forth between areas of focus. Every switch brings a loss of energy and, I would suggest, a loss of soul. At the very least, a loss of presence.
  3. Keep it present. And presence is that most priceless of commodities--the ability to be all there, wherever you are. What would it be like for every person who speaks with you today to have your undivided attention and regard? 100%. All of you, offered to all of them. That's what trail time is about.

Interested in integrating some trail time into your world? Yeah, me too. This vision is one simple way to be our best selves...our uncomplicated, undistracted, fully present selves. And that's worth doing.

Posted on April 22, 2014 .