As business owners, leaders must embrace the responsibility to adapt to changes. Yet in order to remain successful and relevant, leaders must lead in ways that are often unforeseen. It's time for leaders to lead.
As a pastime, hiking is one of those activities which emulates life. Undoubtedly, you never know where the path will lead until it challenges you.
This analogy came to mind when I set out to visit the Adirondacks and climbed Snowy Mountain in the fall of 2020. I must admit, mustering up the nerve to begin the journey—at least for me—meant I needed to conquer it. No turning back, no second thoughts, only the ambition to succeed. Unquestionably, I knew it would be tough.
But as I laced up my hiking boots, immersed in nature’s beauty and serenity, a sense of peace arose. I started down the hiking trail, working hard to avoid the ruts and rocks that intercepted my path. With each step my thoughts began to wander. I soon realized I was paralleling how my career as a graphic designer mimicked the steps I take with my clients.
The Ruts, Challenges, and Navigation To Snowy Mountain
Not Every Marked Trail Led To Snowy Mountain
The beginning of almost any hiking trail is easy. The rise and fall of the path will become more demanding the further one walks. Overcoming those dips and hurdles of small rocks and tree branches means I need to watch my footing.
• Similarly, as a graphic designer my profession promotes products and services. My role is coming up with creative designs—like logos, websites, newsletters, flyers, ads, etc.—to attract the eye of an audience and promote a brand. When I encounter a potential new client, it should be the right fit—for both of us. My knowledge and experience should aid my clients in achieving their project objectives. Sometimes like hiking, not every path leads in the right direction. Likewise, a potential new client should align to the services I can deliver for them to be a good match.
Taking Breaks And Knowing Limits
It’s not uncommon to take a break now and then especially when hiking. Knowing when a break is needed goes hand-in-hand with knowing your limits.
• Not every clients’ project will be ideal to take on, and knowing when to say “No” to any project can offer a sense of relief.
When A Change In The Path’s Direction Occurs
There will always be twist and turns on any hiking trail, and maneuvering around the terrain can be an adventure. Sometimes wooden planks are laid out to make navigating around the mud and puddles easier.
• The same is true when a project starts. Clearly defining the project’s objectives, audience, and marketing message, makes the creative process easier. But if a project changes direction after it starts it’s better to re-evaluate the current design. This approach ensures the project’s design engages their audience, and emphasizes their new message.
Overcoming Snags Along The Trail With Mindful Steps
When hiking it’s the little branches that catch my boots. Paying attention to each step is no different than addressing the details that arise during a project’s production.
• Overseeing those small details are particularly important. When a project advances effortlessly, it demonstrate how I go the extra mile for my clients to ensure their project’s success.
Conquering Challenging Rocks Requires Making Good Decisions
Scampering rocks on a hike can be fun. But even some rocks can be challenging.
• The same is true when evaluating the right direction to take when a project encounters a challenge. Finding solutions to those challenges often requires evaluating the concern and taking the right course of action to resolve it. Even then, the decisions I make on projects are based on previous experience and doing what’s best for my clients.
When The Climb Nears The End
Most hikers at some point look up and ask themselves is this the end?
• It’s no different than wondering when the revisions on some projects will continue to linger; or the end is within sight. When a project nears its conclusion, there’s a dwindling down of revisions, an approval of final pages, and preparing the project for distribution.
Flickers Of Sunlight Brighten The Path
As the hiking path slowly twist and turns, the journey can become almost meditative. Some may say picturesque as the sunlight flickers between the path and trees.
• It’s like finalizing a project when all the planning and strategizing starts to comes together. Soon there’s a flicker of hope that the benefits of a long awaited project will soon be ready for distribution.
The Benefit Received Is The Ultimate Reward
Reaching the top is the ultimate achievement, as the views from the top are worth the hard work to get there. For me Snowy Mountain was more about mastered the trail I heard was so hard to climb.
• In the same way, when a project is completed, it’s the end result that matters most. The moment when all the hard work makes a business or nonprofit more visible, profitable, and strategically positioned in the marketplace. My reward is the gratitude I get from helping my clients become more successful.