My recent blog, Transformation at 12,000 Feet, contained a picture of a spire and Sky Pond about 800 feet below. On a separate trip to the Rocky Mountains, I decided to make two journeys to Sky Pond within a three-day period.  The trail to Sky Pond is 4.9 miles and increases in elevation by 1,440 feet (no climbing gear necessary).  On the first hike, my goal was to get to Sky Pond as quickly as possible.  I made good time, passed some people on the trail, and reached my goal with efficiency.

Two days later, I decided to hike the trail again, but this time I would take my time and observe as much as possible along the trail.  I appreciated things I didn’t see on the previous hike such as reflections on the water of a lake that was on the way, leaves moving in the breeze in distinct patterns, sounds of waterfalls, wildlife, and many other things.  During the second hike, people passed me on the trail.  When I saw others, they were not just people, they were souls.  As I approached the end of the trail, there was a small waterfall that fed directly from Sky Pond.  I balanced along rocks in a small stream below the waterfall and looked up to where the water was coming off of the edge of a small cliff.  The sun was catching the water droplets that acted like thousands of prisms.  This was an amazing sight and the picture does not do it justice.

Timberline Falls
Try to imagine the sound of the water.

As we achieve our goals throughout the week, we have a choice of taking the trail quickly or taking it mindfully.  The mindful trail is one that brings deeper appreciation and a calmer state of being.   The mindful approach also honors the souls on the trail.  This is the time of year when we meet many people on the trail.

We have completed one week of advisement and have one more to go.  Great advisors/mentors know the journey to the souls of their students and use this time to make a difference in their lives.  Take a moment with your advisees to observe a little more deeply and to help them examine the trail they are traveling.  It may only take a simple question like, “What is having the greatest impact on your life right now?”  Also, take some time to reflect on the trail taken with your colleagues. This will result in a deeper realization of our community’s most highly ranked shared values.  As you are on the trail:

  • Seek to understand before being understood
  • Listen to each other
  • Share what is most important
  • Share your challenges as well as your successes
  • Trust
  • Be open-minded and appreciate different perspectives
  • Embrace diversity of opinions

Margaret Wheatley said, “… time for reflection with colleagues is for me a lifesaver; it is not just a nice thing to do if you have the time. It is the only way you can survive.”