6 Insights from #Big4in24
It’s been one month since #Big4in24. In the last post, I told you about the practicalities of the Challenge. This time around I want to delve into the learnings I took onboard from such a magnificent event. A month filled with the usual hum drum of life combined with my attempts to reflect on and learn from the Challenge. The #Big4in24 taught me a lot and so it has taken some time to understand the finer lessons buried within it. I think I’ve filtered through it all, understood it and begun to apply those lessons back into my every day. For it’s in my every day life beyond the Challenge where the gold lies. Here are 6 insights from #Big4in24 gleaned from my journaling and reflection on the event.
I(Prelude) Extract from my Journal *rewritten for the blog There is a barely visible thread of connectedness to life. What is happening in one area of life, is happening in another and all major events are preceding by smaller and smaller events. The subtle habits, feelings and thought patterns which lead to major wins and losses can be around for months and even years before an event occurs. Our mind is just super-amazing at hiding our thoughts and feelings to us. A major event and the contemplation on that event can reveal to us those patterns. Learning these patterns can then help to explain why life can happen to us or for us. It can help us to redirect the flow of our life and live a better life than if the event did not happen at all for us. Sometimes, these major events happen ‘to us’. In other words, we don’t expect the event to happen and we didn’t necessarily consciously want the event to occur. A car crash, a disease, injury or the loss of a loved one might be good examples. However, we don’t have to wait for life to happen to us before we understand ourselves. We can go out and search for that insight ourselves. Sport, adventure, cold bathing, breath holding, performing and living a life meaning are other routes to revealing who you are, what you are made of and what you want in this life. I classify all of these events, ‘accidental’ and ‘purposeful’ as challenges. These challenges are always an opportunity for us to understand ourselves. Reflection upon them and integrating their lessons back into our life are a gateway for us to become better people throughout our whole life and level up. The Challenge of Climbing The 4 Peaks of Ireland in 24 hours (#Big4in24) was one such event. #Big4in24 turned out to be an event like no other for me. It was one of those events in my life, where the thread of connectedness showed itself vividly to me in the moment. I found out that the deeper lessons in one area of life, are rearing its head in another area of life. Even though the events may look nothing alike. The means for improvement are found in all. These are my insights on #Big4in24. “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate”. Carl Jung (*to illustrate how strong these synchronicities are, I took a break from writing this blog and looked at my Instagram. This quote was posted by @breathe_with_georgie. It was the first post I saw. It perfectly captures the meaning behind this whole blog post – awesome, huh?!) #Big4in24
Insight #1: Goals Serve A Purpose. Set Them and Then Let Life Guide You
Back in April 2021, we were nearing the end of the 3rd Government Lockdown. During that time, I set myself some goals to achieve during the summer. One of those was to climb a mountain every month during the summer. I got to work on my goal in May when I climbed Slieve Donard in Co. Down. It was awesome. I felt freedom and peace on the mountain and I looked forward to climbing some more throughout the summer. It didn’t happen that way for me though. July and August was crazy busy for me and I didn’t climb any more mountains. The opportunity did arrive however to climb four mountains in one day at the end of the summer. Even though I didn’t technically fulfil my original goal. I did flow with life and, when I partook in #Big4in24, I essentially achieved the purpose of my original goal.
Insight #2: Listen to Life
The idea for #Big4in24 came from a confluence of tiny events:
I set my original goal to climb the mountains.
I increasingly wanted to challenge my body and my mind.
I attended a Men’s circle. As I listened to the other men in the group speak about their present-day life, I heard many stories of men that wanted to be challenged too.
I began to seek out events and came across the idea to climb the four peaks in twenty-four hours.
I got talking to a client who had done the challenge years ago and told me all about it!
I went shopping in Blanchardstown one day and ended up in a Regatta store because I felt compelled to check out hiking gear (I’ve only once been in a store like that previously). The first thing I found was a red t-shirt with the four peaks of Ireland emblazoned on it!!
The next day I spoke to a client of mine, Stefan McDonnell. It turns out he too wanted a challenge. When I told him about the four peaks challenge he was game ball. We then set a date, arranged a charity and text some other boys to get involved. The end result was #Big4in24. The rest from there was history. It was game time.
Insight #3: Admin is Important
This insight I learned the hard way on #Big4in24. Over the last few weeks I’ve been watching Ultimate Hell Week on tv. It’s a game show where participants undergo a version of the gruelling special forces selection training. From the show, it is clear the special forces are big on admin. Having the right kit prepared for each event. Making sure your space is clean and tidy. Getting sleep and food onboard when you’re given time to do so. These are all little things that seem innocuous but they become extremely important when you are in the heat of battle or a challenge like #Big4in24.
We didn’t prepare our routes well enough for the challenge. Sure we didn’t even know the route to begin our very first mountain! Granted two of the men had completed the route previously but we were in the dark this time and they couldn’t remember it. Lack of route preparation also led to mayhem on the final peak and could have cost us a lot more than just time. If we prepared our driving arrangements better, we could have shared the workload better and made better time. Personal Food choices weren’t great on my end and led to a dodgy stomach on most mountains.
Insight #4: Things Can Always Be Worse
We got lost in the dead of night coming down our final mountain. It was 3.30am on the Sunday morning. Like the rest of the men, I had been awake since 6am Friday morning with only a spurt of sleep here and there. We were sleep deprived, physically exhausted, cranky and not thinking straight. I sat down in despair with two of the others. It wasn’t long before there was a row starting. Some men wanted to follow the same route down a gorge, others wanted to head up another mountain. At one point, someone even rang their mammy to ask for directions!!
On the plus side, it was warm and dry, we had food and water. When I sat down I thought to myself ‘we could always wait this one out till dawn in three hours’ time’. With that realisation, I got up and decided to follow the men heading up the next mountain. Not five minutes later, one of the men heard a dog barking - campers! We woke them up in the middle of the night and they showed us the way home, Thank God. But if it was not for the attitude that the tide could turn, we could have ended up at the bottom of a gorge.
(*This sign may read 'Mourne wall' but the route it took us was a disaster - we should have planned better!)
Insight #5: Reflection is as Important as Experience
Underneath the hood of any challenge is a desire to grow, to understand yourself and life better, to become a better version of yourself and to find your own Innate Greatness. In order to grow you have to be able to observe the Challenge from a bird’s eye view and analyse it in relation to the rest of your life. The threads are almost impossible to see. Some people can’t see the threads at all. They go through life as if life is happening to them. They ‘catch a cold’, ‘pick up injuries’. Their woes are the faults of the seasons, the economy and everybody else but themselves. They can’t connect the dots between thought, feeling, action and event. But just because you can’t see it, does that mean it is not there?
I view Sickness, Disease, Injury, Sport and a challenge like #Big4in24 as opportunities to help me grow. In order to truly get the most out of any Challenge, I need to take the lessons and apply them into my every-day life. I need to live and breathe your insights.
There is a knack to seeing the threads however – like almost anything, it can be trained. Most of us can see this thread when reviewing an event, it’s called contemplation. Art in any form or journaling are two forms of contemplation. They are an expression of our mind – our thoughts, feelings and experiences in life. The things we create reflect our perceived reality, like a mirror to our inner selves. You don’t have to be an artist or a writer. The act of reflecting is a personal one. If you creatively inclined then use your skills to express whatever is going on inside of you. If this is all new to you, simply put pen to paper and start writing. It’s not a ‘dear diary’ type of journal. This is a whatever is on your mind. If you don’t have anything, then start with the mundane like ‘the day is warm. I am sitting here’. As you continue to write, you’ll find deeper levels revealed to you over time. Just make sure you write and keep writing every day. The rest will come.
Insight #6: Learn from Everything, Everyone, Everytime
Given our lack of experience, lack of preparation and general lack of professionalism, everything worked out well in the end. In hindsight I wouldn’t change anything that happened on the event. It was this very experience, combined with a reflection upon it, that has helped me grow as a person. I am a better version of Leo now that I was before the challenge. I have a new outlook on life, I had fun on the way and I’ve developed some new skills. What more could I want?
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