A few weeks ago, I announced on the Unbeatable Mind Podcast that I have a new book coming out this year, Unbeatable Leader. I shared the first chapter of the book on that podcast and I wanted to make sure my blog followers got a preview as well. I know I’ve been neglecting the blog lately (sorry), but it’s because I’ve been busy working on the book! My intention is to help leaders understand how to evolve consciousness to what I call the fifth plateau. You’ll learn more about this over the coming weeks as I plan to share snippets with you leading up to the launch of the book. Without further ado, here is the excerpt from Unbeatable Leader:
Wake Up Your Why
You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep rereading the last one. I arose at the crack of dawn, my plan set. Mount Marcy, the highest peak in the Adirondacks peered down on me. I was going alone and planned to power it out. Running the arduous trail as much as possible.
First, I lightly jogged down to the dock at our family summer home at Lake Placid, upstate New York. Plunging into the frigid waters I freestyled around Gull Rock and back. Then cranked out a hundred push-ups. The sun threatened to peak behind Saddleback mountain to my rear, lighting the lake with an odd glow. The clouds on Whiteface Mountain painted a perfect mirror in the lake. It was utterly silent, beautiful and peaceful. Only me, a few fish and the animals stirred.
In that moment, I felt alive and connected. But my life outside of that moment felt anything but alive and connected then. I lacked direction under the blanket of a depression that I wore. I saw no motivation beyond the extrinsic drive to prove myself to my parents, society… whoever cared.
But they only cared about their own perceptions and needs, which is common. I don’t mean to say that my parents didn’t care about my health and safety, etc. They were good people. They just didn’t care about what I needed and desired, because they couldn’t. They wanted the son they saw in their eyes–perfect–the one who looked like Dad. The one who my Mom kept home while other siblings shipped off to boarding school.
I didn’t realize then that nobody in my life really cared about me. And I would say that’s true with most. And the baggage of negative and confusing messages had caused my own existential crisis. I should have felt on top of the world. If I was a 23 year-old, fully employed, MBA student at an elite business school, I wasn’t feeling it.
In fact, I was fumbling through my job as an auditor at Coopers and Lybrand, struggling to like the work and the environment. I’d only done it to be noticed and to keep up with my smart friends from Colgate University. The goal of earning that MBA and CPA and attaining financial independence at an early age was not something that I had consciously thought through. But there it was, anyhow. It drove my actions like a robot programmed by masters with designs of how it would serve them.
My father’s program to finish what I start became my mantra and helped me stay focused. My future was so bright, I should have worn shades, but I felt like shit.
Now, I had this long weekend break and knew that if I could run to the top of Mount Marcy, I would feel alive again like Lake Placid and all of nature for that matter.
I desperately needed a wake-up call. Something to snap me out of my misery. I couldn’t discern the programming from reality. On that morning, I didn’t know the mountain was to graciously provide my first wake-up moment.
Many more awakenings would come over the years and in greater frequency. Each one opening me up to my “why.” My reason for existence. My Dharma. Each evolving my consciousness and providing new perspectives, liberating me to follow my essential nature. Away from that pre-programmed mental and emotional pattern of my youth.
But wow. That first awakening, on the peak of Mount Marcy. It didn’t change my trajectory right away, but it set it all in motion. It was the moment that I realized I had the power of choice.
I set off on the trail with my backpack and supply of water. And a PB and J sandwich. The trail started flat but soon turned its rocky routed face upward. 24 miles total, no problem. I could jog forever. Bouncing around and over the obstacles provided an amazing concentration practice. A single misstep could result in a sprained ankle or painful walk back.
The day wore on and I kept my focus. Slowing to a fast walk on the steeper part. Passing other hikers like they were standing still. I was silent. Inwardly focused. My mind replaying the latest confusing scene with my broken relationship. I went quiet for long periods of time as I concentrated on the rocks and hand-holds. Hours slipped by until suddenly I emerged from the tree line and saw the summit looming. I quickened my pace in spite of my exhaustion, motivated by completion now.
Summiting, I quickly found a ledge to sit on, powered-down a sandwich and a water bottle and intended to lay back on my rocky bed to rest. But I was stunned by the beauty of the 360-degree panoramic view over the 6 million acre Adirondack Park. And I began to experience a radical shift in my perspective. A cascading experience where I was moving away from my brain’s thoughts. Backward and upwards. At least, that was the sensation anyhow.
It was as if I was sitting on a different rock watching myself sit on that ledge. And in that moment, I could suddenly see my life clearly, as if the forest and the lake were the movie screen, and my life was playing over it. I felt amazingly alive. Deeply connected to nature around me. I was so utterly exhausted though, that I seemed to be hallucinating. But that hallucination felt more real than the thoughts in my head. In that moment I experienced a separation from my thinking mind. A first for me.
But what separated? Who was watching the thinker? I didn’t have the answers. I just knew, for the first time, that my story–what I watched from afar then–was not me. Then I fell asleep.
Ok friends, what did you think? I hope you enjoyed that little look into my book. If you’d like to hear even more from Unbeatable Leader, head over to the Unbeatable Mind Podcast and listen to the rest of Chapter 1.
Until next time, wake up