Recently, I learned a lot about what it means to create your own path to reach your personal goals. My brother Britton competed in an adventure race known as 29029. The race has contestants climbing up and down a mountain for 29,029 feet, the vertical equivalent of Mount Everest, with a strict 36-hour time limit. That’s right, 36 hours to climb 5.5 miles vertically and close to a marathon of actual distance traveled.

The race took place in Vermont and offered all the contestants the beauty of not being able to see the top of the mountain from the bottom due to fog and an impromptu severe rainstorm that made the trail muddy. Now, we all know that climbing the equivalent of the tallest mountain in the world in a day and a half is tough, but imagine having to trudge through mud to get there?

I’ll fast-forward the 33.5 hours of stress I endured as I blew up his wife for constant updates about his progress and physical well-being. On the final lap, his 17th ascent up this mountain, I received a picture someone had taken from the gondola above. In the picture, as you can see, is a winding muddy path that the contestants followed up the mountain.

And besides that….my brother. Same goal, same destination, different path. The truth is, we often think the best way to get to a result is to follow the path that others have taken….and sometimes that’s true. But when was the last time you asked yourself, “is following the path of everyone else helping me get to where I want to get to in the most efficient way?”

Often, trudging through the mud that others left behind is slowing us down and putting us in ruts in our careers and lives. Now, this isn’t to say that others who follow the path are wrong or are any less admirable. However, we must ask ourselves, “is the path I’m on right for me?”

Then we must ask ourselves, “is there a different way to get to the same result?” What you’ll start to find is that there are always several ways up the mountain. Pick the one that works for you. Remember in the adversities and the climbs to the Everest’s of our lives, what’s irrelevant is the path, all that matters is the result. When you reach your peak, no one will belittle you for the road you took to get there… and if they do, you won’t hear it because naysays speak from the comfort of the lodge at the bottom of the mountain…. those of us climbing for pinnacles are too far removed to care what they say.

Set your peak destination, find a route that feels right to you…and never stop climbing.

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