“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson


Last week  I was checking in with Sigrid Allen, fellow coach, accountability partner and friend when I mentioned some of my recent trials, risks and foibles and she called me a “trailblazer.” I don’t know why but the term immediately called to mind someone zooming above ground in a jet-pack seemingly unaware of the obstacles beneath her. I thanked her, of course, and immediately responded, “I don’t feel like a trailblazer. I feel like I’m just plodding along getting my galoshes sucked off as I trudge my way through the muck and I’m always thinking, ‘well, I learned something valuable there.'” She responded, “well, isn’t that what a trailblazer IS? The trail’s not there already – you’re figuring it out for the people who will come behind you.”

Oh yeah, huh?!?!

I realized that while I’m perfectly fine with the process of slogging along and all of little lessons learned that come with growing myself and my business I still sort of had a vision of what it looked like to be making progress enough to be worthy of praise.

The truth is, the very nature of creating something new in your life is trailblazing and trailblazing is very messy work. Trailblazing is a decision that the path will go over here and when you’re done it will look a certain way and then finding out that neither of those things are true.  Then it is a new decision that the path may be parallel to the first but will need some other accommodation before traveling it and then finding out that’s only partially true. It is yet another new decision that the new direction is fine but the accommodations need to start inside of ourselves and then that’s true up to a certain point…at least until the conditions of the trail change again and now it’s up to the lay of the land.  In short, it is the process by which we go bald because it is more important to us to build something important in our lives than to have luxurious locks on our melons.

Trailblazing is slow, it’s sloppy, it can be frustrating and tiring. It is also incredible practice at accepting what is.  It is exercising flexibility and patience (both with ourselves and the process). Trailblazing becomes a mirror of ourselves so that we can see how we show up strong and where we have the opportunity for improvement. Finding our own way is all of these things.

While we are building a trail for ourselves and hopefully others someday, we’re also building a trail that others may choose to reject. That’s ok. Because when we show up to work in our gear and our fear, in our freedom and in our wisdom the real path that others will follow is the one that shows them they can do the same. They can find their own reflection in the mere courage it takes to say, “this is what I’m going to try…for now.”

On whatever trail YOU are embarking I hope you know that

  • while it is always harder than it seems at first you DO have what it takes to get through – even if it is the ability to practice what you need to get through,
  • you will get exactly what you need along the way – even when it feels uncomfortable, and
  • you’re always exactly where you should be – even when it’s not at all like you envisioned.

Trailblazing is rarely easy and it is always worthwhile.  (And if  you’re ever curious about mine you’ll recognize it by the clumps of hair wafting alongside it.)