In just over two months from now, I plan to do a six day backpacking trip in the Grand Canyon. I, along with a team of five other hikers will start at the South Kaibab trailhead on the south rim of the canyon, hike one mile deep into the inner gorge, cross the Colorado River, ascend all the way to the north rim, and then turn around and come all the way back. This is called a rim-to-rim-to-rim hike and it is something that I have wanted to do for years.
In order to complete a hike like this, proper preparation and attention to every detail is mandatory. I will need to carry all of my food, water, and camping supplies, which will amount to wearing a backpack that weighs in the 35-40 pound range. And my body will need to be in tiptop shape to take me up and down steep hills, across a few sheer ledges and over rough terrain in a potentially very hot, dry desert environment.
I am a believer that one can do practically anything in life if you prepare properly. I have done about ten backpacking trips in Grand Canyon and numerous day hikes over many trails. I know the dangers of hiking there and because of my experience I know how to train and prepare to maximize the probability that my team and I will be successful. And most importantly, I am smart enough to know my limits. I am not Superman!
For quite some time now I have been teaching people how to live their healthiest and happiest lives possible. Proper preparation in life is essential, not just in training for an athletic or endurance event, but also in all aspects of life. If you want to undertake something difficult and challenging, as long as you know what you are getting into and you are prepared, you most likely will be OK. Not knowing exactly where you are going and getting in over your head can have potentially devastating consequences.
Let me give you a great non-athletic, real life business example. This really happened. First a little background information is in order. Some of you may know that I co-founded a business a while ago with my brother Rich. Since we are both dentists by profession, our dream was to help other dentists reach higher levels of success in their practices and their lives. Twenty-one years later, our company The Madow Group is one of the leading educators and practice builders for dentists in the United States!
A few months ago I had something very strange take place. Two of our employees resigned suddenly without notice. It was a total surprise. Shocking. After all, why would two seemingly intelligent men who I considered to be friends of mine leave relatively high paying jobs in an economy such as this? As hard as I tried, I just couldn’t figure it out.
When the dust settled, we found out that our friends had been copying our business ideas for months (while employed by us) with the intent of opening a similar business of their own. At first I was devastated. How could two individuals that I put so much trust in do such a dishonorable thing? I was incredulous that this could actually happen. Rich and I worked too hard for all of these years to have two of our friends cheat us like this.
Anyway, having thought about this whole situation quite a bit, I always come back to my Grand Canyon training program. And here’s why. As I said earlier, every time I backpack in the Grand Canyon, I know exactly what is ahead of me and I am confident that I will be ready for obstacles. I am experienced.
Just the opposite for my two friends that left me to copy what we are doing. You see, there are a few potential “obstacles” that they may not have ever thought about before they made this decision. And more likely than not, they are not prepared for what is ahead.
A seasoned hiker makes it look so easy because he or she has hiked before and knows what to expect. Rich and I make our business look easy because we have been doing it for over twenty years. We have a large base of doctors that know us and do business with us. I believe we have a pretty good reputation among dentists.
But getting to where we are now did not come easy. It cost us a ton of money and a lot of headaches and sweat over a twenty-one year period. And if we were to try to start this same business today, I am not so sure it would be possible. Times are so very different.
And remember one of the most important points. Rich and I are dentists. We are professionals. We have gone through the pains of dental school and the process of building up practices. We are colleagues to our customers. We are one of them. Contrast that to my two buddies that are attempting to copy. They are not dentists and are total unknowns in the dental profession. One is an ex-home improvement guy and the other is a flooring industry guy. Doesn’t seem to mesh with dentists, does it? They have NO EXPERIENCE nor do they have the talent to do what we do. But have they taken this into consideration? It appears as though they have not.
Sure, it’s always easy when we start our backpacking trip on the rim. We all feel great at the start. But the long enduring trek through the hot and dry desert is not for the timid. And getting back to the business example, my two friends have not trained properly for what lies ahead in the canyon. They do not have the proper equipment or supplies. I would never attempt anything like they are doing without knowing what is ahead. Without water, food and energy to get where we need to go, we die.
If I attempted my Grand Canyon hike totally untrained, I would perhaps last a short time until I realized that I could not complete it. Same with business or anything else you may attempt. If you have not prepared properly, your food, water and energy will be depleted. Your legs will be tired. Your back will be sore from carrying the heavy packs. And sooner, rather than later, you will succumb to the hot, dry desert.
Please promise me that before undertaking a tremendous challenge, you will research and train properly. That’s all I ask. I am not telling you not to take risks or challenges in your life. I take them all the time. But I do not want you, my friend, to ever make such a big mistake in life that you cannot recover from like my two buddies have done. Do you promise?