If you haven’t read my previous post yet, this story begins back in Part 1.
After spending our first night in the park at Camp Grey, we made our way over to Camp Italiano, which Shaun was very excited about, being the proud Italian that he is. This campsite actually is free, which was nice. For the second day in a row, we had sun and clear blue skies, without a drop of rain, which is not at all normal for Torres Del Paine.
Italiano has a beautiful river that runs along side it, which is where I spent most of my afternoon after setting up camp. I found a nice rock in the middle of the river and sat myself down with my kindle and a bag of chocolates to read Steve Jobs’ biography, which is a great read, by the way.
The next morning, we hiked to the end of the French Valley and back. This was really nice because we were able to leave our backpacks and gear at the campsite. After two days of carrying 20kg backpacks, this was a real treat. During the climb, we were lucky enough to see and hear a massive avalanche take place across the valley.
When we returned to camp, we were thrown a bit of a curve ball. Our original plan was to stay at Camp Torres on our fourth and final night. Torres is the only campsite that requires a reservation and when we first arrived in the park, we tried to make one. We were told that we could only make a reservation one day in advance and that we could do so at Italiano.
However, we now found out that Camp Italiano was using a different system. They were taking reservations 2-3 days out and Camp Torres was already completely full for the day that we were attempting to book. The reason we wanted to camp at Torres was because it’s only a 45 minute walk to “The Towers” (The main attraction in the park). We wanted to wake up early and make it there for sunrise. Since this was no longer an option, we decided that we were going to leave the park a day early.
This change of plans meant that we had a big day ahead of us. Our goal was to make our way all the way to Camp Chileano, which would end up being almost 30km’s of trekking that day. According to the map times, we wouldn’t arrive until after 1am. When I first looked at the map I wasn’t sure if we could do it, since we had slept in and we were not going to have an early start.
After an hour or so, we were making really good time and I became confident that we could make it by dark. The times are pretty conservative. I actually set a private goal of arriving before 7:00pm, which really motivated me all day.
At the Base Camp talk, they told us that the longer we stay in the park the more fun we would have and the easier it becomes. They said that by day 5-6 we would feel like unstoppable machines. I felt like this on day 3. We walked and we walked and we walked. I was having a great time and I really didn’t start feeling tired until the last hour. This was one of my favourite parts of the entire trek. We spent a large portion of the day walking alongside a beautiful turquoise lake.
When we finally arrived at our destination, Camp Chileno, I felt a wave of accomplishment wash over me. With my goal of arriving by 7:00pm in the back of my mind, I really did feel like I turned into an unstoppable machine and we ended up arriving just after 6:00pm. We set up camp right beside the river and celebrated by buying a nice meal at the Refugio.
One of the magical benefits of goals is that they can make things that seem out of reach, become almost easy. “As the why becomes stronger, the how becomes easier.” With a strong reason why, it’s almost like all obstacles and pain disappear. As we were walking 30km, with heavy backpacks, I should have felt tired, but I didn’t because I was so excited by the idea of arriving in half of the estimated time. I get a lot of motivation by setting small goals and treating the task at hand like a game.
The climb up to “The Towers,” on our final morning, was by far the toughest part of the entire “W” trek. I don’t know if it was because I exhausted all of my energy the day before, but I really struggled on this day. I’m just grateful that I had an amazing friend with me that supported me and helped me make it to the end. As I expected, just like with the Fitz Roy trek in El Cheltan, the view at the top was unquestionably worth the struggle.
Reflecting on my experience while writing this, I was trying to figure out why I was so motivated by my goal of arriving at Chileno by 7pm, since at first glance I didn’t see any real meaning behind it. I think that it had something to do with proving to myself that I could do it. At first, this realization was a bit unsettling to me, since, for the past year, I’ve been working really hard on breaking my habit of always having to prove myself.
In December of 2013, during a life success course, I learned a life-changing lesson that I will share with you now. The process involved climbing to the top of a telephone pole and then jumping out to grab on to a trapeze. Whereas most people were scared, I couldn’t wait to do it. I was excited to climb up the pole and prove to everyone below that I could do it faster and better than anyone else. Prior to starting, I was to have a short talk with the lead facilitator of the course. This is how our conversation went, as I remember…
Facilitator: “Can you prove that there’s a God?”
Facilitator: “Can you prove that someone loves you?”
Facilitator: “Can you prove that you are worthy?”
Facilitator: “Just like you can’t prove that there’s a God or that someone loves you, you can never prove that you are good enough. You can never prove that you are worthy. You are going to spend your entire life chasing money and material success. You will never truly be happy because you can never prove that you are worthy. Just like God and Love, worthiness is a belief. It’s something that you either believe about yourself or that you don’t. It’s not something that is proved. If you stop treating life like a proving ground, it will turn into a playground.”
I climbed up the pole, as if I was playing on the monkey bars back in elementary school, not caring what the people down below thought about me at all. When I reached the top I visualized the goal that I would jump towards. In the past, in breakthrough processes, I would always visualize a business goal, but this time I jumped towards a bright white light, which represented love.
I took a deep breath in and I jumped. I let out a sigh of relief, as my fingers wrapped around the metal bar. I hung there, as time seemed to stand still, in what can only be described as a state of bliss.
This experience made a big impact on my life over the past year. I realized that my burning desire to prove myself was controlling my life. It did serve me at times. It helped me to do very well in University and then in business. It allowed me to become extremely dedicated to becoming successful in anything that I focused on.
These are good things, but the problem was the underlying reason behind my motivation. It was not healthy. I was creating what I wanted in my life, but I was never truly satisfied. This was because I was always chasing success to prove that I was good enough, which just is not possible. After accomplishing something great, I still wouldn’t feel like I was good enough, so I would be off chasing “the next thing.”
Since that experience, I’ve noticed a real shift in my thinking. I know that I’m still not totally cleansed of this tendency to prove, but I definitely feel like I’ve made a big step in a positive direction. I am no longer driven by competition and recognition, nearly as much as I was in the past. In 2013, I didn’t take a day off work from January, 5th – June 4th because I was so driven by competition and the desire to be the best. I definitely did not feel this way in 2014, where I basically ran my business from the beach for the majority of the summer.
Now, I will have to replace my desire to prove with a new source of motivation if I am to accomplish the things that I wish to accomplish in this lifetime. I believe that the deepest and most powerful form of motivation, which leads to real long term happiness, comes from a place of service. From a desire to help people and to make a difference in the world.
This is the type of motivation that I see within all of the great leaders throughout history, who created lasting positive change in the world. This is the type of motivation that I see today, in the mentors and leaders that I look up to and aspire to be like. This is the type of motivation that I wish to embody and operate with for the rest of my life.
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