The Importance of New

Last year, my friend Bill proposed we run the Pikes Peak Ascent, a half marathon up, you guessed it, Pikes Peak. The race description itself was daunting: Elevation gain of 7,815′, starting at 6,300′ and finishing at 14,115’ with an average grade of 11%; the trail is narrow and winding with gravel, rocks and dirt and includes sharp turns and abrupt changes in elevation and direction. After a few seconds of consideration, I said I was in.

We’ve both run marathons (Bill many more than me) along with 50k and 50 mile ultras, so we have some experience, but we knew this was going to be completely different, especially since we live at 900’ in Minnesota.

Pikes Peak Marathon Course

Google Earth view of the Ascent and Marathon course.

 

We did as much as we could to prepare (Bill much more than me), but really went into it pretty blind. We both made it to the top (Bill far ahead of me) and as we conbret-bill-pikes-peakgratulated each other on the achievement I was tremendously thankful to have such a good friend, pardon the pun, push me to such new heights.

Once my endorphins settled down and I had time to reflect, it was clear something truly special had just happened. I concluded the reason this was such a big deal was because it was a completely new experience and it’s been quite a while since I’ve done something this new. Running at altitude, the 11% grade, the terrain, the smell of the Bristlecone Pine trees — it was all different than anything I’d come across in the past. And it was exhilarating.

Obviously it’s not realistic to experience something this dramatic throughout the year, but I do think it’s important to consistently encounter and tackle new challenges. The opportunity to do this is what draws many of us to consulting, especially the work we do at Evantage.

New problems force us to come up with new solutions.

A canned or cookie-cutter approach won’t be enough. We have to explore new ways of thinking and constantly ask if there is a better way.

New environments sometimes put us in uncomfortable situations.

We have to be flexible and willing to take risks, and trust our colleagues to do the same. I believe the quote goes something like, “You have to get comfortable with discomfort.”

New relationships cause us to look at ourselves.

What can I learn from this person? Does she possess qualities I admire and can try to emulate? Does he possess qualities I dislike and want to avoid myself?

Conquering something new inspires us to ask, “What’s next?”

Once we’ve solved the puzzle and know we’ve delivered exactly what our client needs, we’re ready to continue on to the next challenge — often for the same client.

New keeps us on our toes. We’re never sure what’s around the corner, but we know we can handle it.