As an avid hiker, there are many lessons one learns out on the trail that can easily be applied to office life. Whether you are a manager or leader in your company, these lessons can provide valuable insight to putting your best foot or hiking boot forward.

Life on the trail makes you incredibly aware of yourself and personal surroundings. Whether it’s battling Mother Nature or experiencing physical setbacks, lessons are constantly being learned and adapted for the next step in your journey. The same can be said as a manager or leader in your company as you are continuously learning and adapting to be more emotionally intelligent. On the trail or in the office, you are constantly learning about yourself and how to bring out your best and help others do the same.

Hellhole Canyon Trail

So, I share with you the top five lessons I learned on the trail that can be applied at work.

1. Preparation is Key

From checking weather conditions or route conditions, it’s important to prepare before hitting the trail. Having all the right equipment and sustenance allows you to be prepared for life’s most unexpected twists and turns. As a leader, understanding what is needed for your tasks ahead helps you prioritize to get the results you need. Preparing for meetings and listening to your directs help you understand their needs and what they need to be successful.

2. Know Your Strengths

Only you know how far you can go. It’s all about mindset to get you to your destination. The same can be said as a manager or leader. Only you know where your true strengths lie and how you can use those strengths to drive results at work and in turn help your directs use their strengths to get results. Employees are not cookie cutters and each has strengths that the other may lack. The combination of those strengths on a team can create amazing results, but you need to know what they are first.

3. Expect Obstacles

Clear paths rarely exist on the trail and conditions may not be perfect. So, don’t expect work life to be either. Although preparation does help as noted in lesson one, expect the unexpected and embrace change. Learning to adapt and face uncertainty helps you grow. As uncomfortable as it might be, change allows for creativity and collaboration to come into play.

4. Respect Your Surroundings

Sometimes there are signs on the trail that tell you to stay on the path. Habitats need to be protected as do cubicle environments. Respecting your employees’ personal spaces creates a happy and productive environment. Mutual respect is critical in any environment in order to foster growth, self-confidence, and camaraderie.

5. It's About the Journey, Not the Destination

It’s always a great feeling of accomplishment when you reach your destination, but don’t forget the hard work that it took to get you there. Coming full circle, everything you learn on each journey builds you up to be a stronger person than you were before by building on your strengths and helping those around you achieve their goals. It takes time and practice to be a good manager, leader or hiker. As long as you keep pushing forward and learn at each juncture, you’ll realize that life is a never-ending journey of continuous improvement.

I’m sure you’ve heard the quote that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. So too, with trail life.

5 Lessons from the Trail to the Office